Burnaby Cariboo R.V. Park offers energy-efficient luxury


Thanks to some expert advice, incentives allow for lower-cost switch to LEDs

At the Burnaby Cariboo R.V. Park and Campground (BCRV), "camping" and "roughing it" are mutually exclusive.

The campground is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and includes a pool, Jacuzzi, clubhouse, mini-mart, and full RV hook-ups, as well as a tenting area. All those amenities draw about 8,000 visitors from all over the world to the site each year. But they can also draw a lot of power.

Ahead of their time: waste heat recapture

The BCRV opened in 1986. From the start, co-managers Kim Van Dyk and his aunt Harriet Mazur wanted to maximize the park's energy efficiency. The first thing the duo did was set up a heat recovery system on the mini-mart's coolers, and use it to heat the store.

These days, heat recovery is considered innovative; back then, it was practically futuristic. The coolers provide 100 per cent of the store's heat in winter. In the summer, with one turn of a valve, the heat generated by the coolers is pumped outside.

Over the years, Van Dyk and Mazur have added other energy saving features to the park, such as installing photocells to ensure their outdoor lights are only on when it's dark enough to need them. In addition, they've installed timers on lights that don't need to be on all night.

"We've tried where we can to have lights turn off when they're not needed," says Van Dyk. "All the sidewalk lights are on photocells. Where we can get away with it we put them on timers, so they turn off after a set amount of hours. The lights for entrances to some buildings, like shed areas, are on timers that have them turn on bright for 15 minutes, then go to half power, then shut off unless there's motion."

101 incandescent lamps replaced with LEDs

Most recently, they upgraded the clubhouse by exchanging its 101 incandescent lamps for LED 12.5W A19 bulbs. They also upgraded the high-output T12 lamps in the coolers with LED refrigeration strip lighting.

"It's a catch-22 situation," he says. "In the winter, we want to leave those lights on to let people know the clubhouse is open. If the lights are off, people think it's closed, and nobody uses the room."

Van Dyk did some research and decided to go with LEDs. Then he spoke with Mary Zuccaro, who acts as the Business Energy Advisor for the BC Lodging and Campgrounds Association through a partnership with LiveSmart BC.  

Zuccaro provided a walk-thru assessment showing energy savings and told him about the BC Hydro Product Incentive Program that would reduce the costs.

"The incentive made me go, 'Oh, this is the time to jump on it,' and it made doing it really worthwhile," says Van Dyk.

Since LEDs use about 75% less electricity than incandescent bulbs, the lighting upgrade means Van Dyk and Mazur are continuing their leading-edge efforts to cut electricity use and save money.