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Low-income initiative recruits through Victoria recreation program

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Crystal Pool program participants a natural fit to get free energy saving kits

There was no doubt in Allison Ashcroft’s mind that there would be a high demand for free energy saving kits in Victoria.

"With a median household income of under $40,000, Victoria has the most low-income households in the Capital Region," said Ashcroft, environmental senior planner with the City of Victoria’s sustainability department. "I was eager to reach these households and have them benefit from the energy saving kits from BC Hydro and FortisBC."

The utilities are providing free energy saving kits to low-income households. The kit contains a number of simple, easy-to-install energy saving products including compact fluorescent light bulbs, weatherstripping, fridge and freezer thermometers, and a high efficiency showerhead.

When all products are installed, the kit can save up to $100 per year in electricity costs.

'Eligibility criteria for both programs are the same'

Ashcroft looked to Victoria's popular recreation centres to get the word out. And one program seemed a natural fit.

Victoria's Crystal Pool has a Leisure Involvement for Everyone (LIFE) program that provides free memberships and class passes.

"The eligibility criteria for both programs are the same," she said, "meaning we could directly target the 3,600 adult and senior applications we process annually."

The Crystal Pool offered space for a promotional display and volunteered to cross-promote the energy saving kit offer when pool memberships came up for renewal. BC Hydro, which offers an online low-income program guide for local governments [PDF, 365 KB], made it easy for the municipality by training staff and supplying posters, coupons and a sample kit to help generate interest.

"Rec centres are a great place to engage residents on climate action, because it's a positive and familiar locale where they have the support of trusted recreation staff," she said. "The initiative was incredibly rewarding because it enabled us to quickly and easily reach a specific group of individuals and families to offer them another program of great value."

Additional energy-saving help available

Once approved for an energy saving kit, some customers will qualify for additional support like the Energy Conservation Assistance Program; a customized, more substantial program that provides account holders with free personalized home energy evaluations, product installation and advice.

"These are valuable and important programs," said Ashcroft, "because they reduce household energy bills, while improving the comfort and efficiency of homes that may otherwise not be renovated."

For municipalities interested in partnering with BC Hydro and FortisBC, Ashcroft suggests looking at departments that already offer community assistance programs. "Delivering these programs through established channels means we can save resources and reach more customers."

Get started today

BC Hydro Power Smart and FortisBC are offering free energy saving kits to qualifying low-income customers with a BC Hydro account. To find out more about the program, apply online or call us at 604 431 9463 or toll free at 1 877 431 9463.