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Lumby curling club gets wrapped, gains efficiency and ice quality

"It seems funny that you'd want to have something insulated when you're making ice inside it. You'd think you'd want a curling rink cold, like outside," says Ken Klassen.

Klassen is Director of Finance for the Village of Lumby, whose curlers face an unusual challenge. Located in the interior of B.C., Lumby stays warm long enough into the fall that the curling season begins when temperatures are still hitting 20 C.

"Then in winter, it could be minus 20," says Klassen. "You have to insulate or it's uncomfortable for people and it plays havoc with your refrigeration system and your floors. Basically, an even temperature is a good thing."

That's why the Village worked with BC Hydro to wrap the interior of Lumby Curling Club with a low-emissivity membrane – basically, a thin layer of specialized insulation that blocks the transfer of heat from inside to outside (or the other way around).

"It looks like aluminum foil on one side, and it's about the thickness of bubble wrap," says Klassen. "It covers the entire ceiling and all the walls. It's basically a reflective insulator, so it helps prevent heat loss, helps with draft reduction, and the reflective qualities help improve the lighting too."

The upgrade qualified for a Power Smart incentive of $1,250 per ice sheet, or a total rebate of $5,000 for the Lumby Curling Club's four ice sheets. And now, they're saving money on energy costs too.

"Year over year, comparing this season to the previous one when we didn't have the insulation, we've seen a 21.8% decrease in electricity used, and a 25% reduction in natural gas. So we're saving money," says Klassen.

Plus, the quality of the facility overall is improved.

"They had condensation issues before," he says. "The moisture condenses, then it drips, so then it's extra labour to take that funny bump off the ice," he says. "Or, the spot where the wind hits is too cold, so you have frost issues, or the sheet where the sun hits in the spring is too soft and slushy.

"This has reduced all those problems. By keeping the temperature even, they have a better facility. Whether you're hosting tournaments or trying to increase membership, it's easier to attract people to your facility when it's first class."

Klassen hopes more organizations will take up the challenge to get Power Smart.

"We're saving money, we're helping greenhouse gas emissions, we're helping reduce our carbon tax, we're helping reduce the need for more electricity generating facilities in the province," he says. "It helps everybody. It's hard to measure one customer at a time, but if you have lots of [BC Hydro] customers doing this, it's a big deal."