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Customer demand for energy efficiency the result of effective partnerships

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Since 2011, over 8,250 BC Hydro rebates valued at over $400,000 have been issued for appliances purchased at Trail Appliances' stores in B.C.

Innovative appliance features driven by customer demand

When appliance manufacturers roll out fancy new features, it’s usually the result of behind-the-scenes work to meet the growing demand from consumers for features that offer convenience or improved performance. Over time, what was once a feature to set a particular model or manufacturer apart becomes a standard option, expected by most customers.

That’s what we set out to do by partnering with leading retailers in B.C.: make increased energy-efficiency a standard item on a customer’s shopping list when they set out looking for a new appliance.

Five-year partnership with Trail Appliances a great success

Strategic partnerships with lighting, electronics and appliance retailers has been a key component of BC Hydro's success in getting more energy-efficient products into the marketplace and helping to build consumer demand. Through these partnerships we can educate store staff, offer rebates and deals on products, and meet customers at the store-level.

One of our long-standing partnerships is with Trail Appliances. Since January 2009, Trail Appliances has worked with our retailer program to promote the benefits ENERGY STAR® appliances to its customers. As a family-owned and operated business since 1974, the company grew from humble beginnings with the family renting out appliances from their bottle depot in Calgary. Today, Trail is one of the largest independent appliance retailers in Western Canada with 15 stores in B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan.

For Mark Pickering, store manager at Trail Appliances' Vancouver showroom, its Trail’s commitment to their family values and how they care for both customers and employees that sets the retailer apart.

“They have a really great training program for staff, so it makes it a great opportunity for us to work with them to promote energy efficient appliances in their stores as we know staff can provide customers with the information we want them to know,” explained Ningning Wang, who manages the relationships between BC Hydro and our retail partners.

Store staff is required to participate in a 6-week training program before they even hit the floor. Part of this training includes a focus on energy-efficient appliances. This is followed by regular refresher courses throughout the year to provide store staff with the knowledge and expertise they need to help customers make an educated purchase.

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Inside Trail Appliances' Vancouver showroom, located at 2876 Rupert Street.

Energy-efficiency becoming top of mind

When it comes to shopping for new appliances, more and more customers are coming into Trail looking for energy efficient options.

"We’ve certainly seen a shift in recent years with the interest from customers in energy efficient appliances and more customers coming into our stores asking about ENERGY STAR and the EnerGuide rating for certain products," explained Pickering.

With the sticker price of an energy-efficient model typically being a bit higher than its non-efficient counterpart it can at first seem hard to justify the extra upfront cost.

“When we explain to customers that by going with a more efficient model they’ll make the difference back through the savings on their energy bills they typically get it, and are able to look beyond paying a bit more upfront for the long-term value in having a high quality, efficient model that uses less natural resources and will cost them less to run over its lifetime,” said Pickering.

For example, a full-sized ENERGY STAR front-loading machine can cut water use by up to 65% compared to a conventional top loader. It will also only use 10–20 gallons of water per load, compared to the 30–35 gallons used by a standard machine. If you think about this multiplied by the number of loads you’ll do in the 5 to 15 year lifetime of the machine, the difference really adds up.

Mutually beneficial partnership

The partnerships between BC Hydro and retailers, like Trail, are beneficial for both sides.

“In partnering with retailers, we’re able to educate store staff on the latest in energy-efficient technology and encourage stores to carry the most efficient products," said Wang, “through this, we can reach customers where they’re making their purchasing decisions."

Offering in-store discounts and mail-in rebates on energy-efficient products is also a key component of these partnerships.

“The rebates offered by BC Hydro certainly seem to drive traffic into our stores and we do see an increase in sales,” said Pickering, “we’ll get customers in the store who are specifically looking for models that are eligible for Power Smart rebates. This combined with the support of the retailer representatives that regularly visit our stores to speak to staff and offer training makes the partnership extremely valuable for us.”

Since 2011, over 8,250 BC Hydro rebates valued at over $400,000 have been issued for appliances purchased at Trail Appliances. The amount of energy saved by these customers purchasing energy-efficient models over conventional ones is about 715,000 kWh, which is enough to power 65 homes or over 1,500 refrigerators for a year.

Save on energy efficient appliances

Between October 1 and November 30, get rebates of up to $300 on the most efficient ENERGY STAR washers, dryers and refrigerators at Trail Appliances and our other retail partners.