The top 5 questions to ask an Alliance member about your energy-efficiency upgrade

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Start by asking your Alliance member to help you select technology that will help you meet business objectives beyond energy savings.

Get the advantage of working with qualified experts

Why should you work with a member of the BC Hydro Alliance? There are lots of advantages. Besides helping companies plan and install energy-efficiency upgrades, these contractors, distributors and consulting engineers can give advice about the latest technologies and which ones are a good fit for your business needs. Alliance members also know the ins and outs of the incentives available to businesses such as Power Smart Express and the Self-serve Incentive Program.

But one of the main advantages of working with an Alliance member is the open invitation to ask questions — questions that can make your upgrade easier, more cost-efficient, and simpler to maintain in the long run.

We asked Power Smart's engineers for their recommendations on how to get the most out of working with the Alliance. They encourage you to ask an Alliance member these five questions before you enter into an agreement:

1. How will the technology help you achieve your business objectives beyond energy savings?

Selecting new energy-efficient technology or systems will obviously save you energy, but upgrading your equipment can bring other benefits too. Your Alliance member can help you select technology that will support other business objectives, such as reducing operating and maintenance costs. If you're performing upgrades in customer-facing areas, new equipment could also be quieter, take up less room in valuable retail areas and even help products to look better in your space.

Share your business objectives with your Alliance member at the start of your project and you can factor those into the products and technologies that you select.

2. What about the warranty?

"Asking about a product's warranty up-front is an absolute must," says Power Smart engineer Cristian Suvagau. "All customers, big and small, industrial and commercial, should know the length of a product's warranty and if the warranty covers installation and routine maintenance."

Also, as technologies become more sophisticated and multiple manufacturers work on a single solution, Suvagau recommends that customers ask if a warranty is conditional in any way. For example, is a specific component or fixture of the product not covered under warranty? Is it exempt because it's prone to failure, or difficult to source and replace if it fails?

Lastly, Suvagau suggests that customers ask how an Alliance member handles issues covered under warranty. Is the customer responsible for liaising directly with the manufacturer? Or,will the Alliance member handle this on the customer's behalf?

3. Will the technology integrate well with existing systems?

Before adopting a new system or product, Suvagau's colleague, Power Smart engineer Niels Broers encourages customers to discuss how the technology will work with their existing applications, control systems and operating requirements.

For example, while high-efficiency, variable-speed drives can use less electricity than constant-speed applications, they are very sensitive to dust, high temperatures and moisture.

4. What are the maintenance requirements?

"Customers should ask BC Hydro Alliance members for a maintenance plan or an overview of the product's expected maintenance cycle," says Suvagau. "This way, a customer will know what to expect maintenance-wise one, three and five years down the road."

Also, Suvagau recommends that customers involve their maintenance staff in every step of a project. "These individuals know your facility intimately and can flag risks or concerns, or advocate for suggested technologies early in the process."

Boers adds that it's important to ask an Alliance member if specific qualifications or certifications are required to service the equipment, or if your existing maintenance staff can perform the work.

5. Codes and standards?

"It's the obligation of the installer to meet a jurisdiction's building codes, regulations and related standards when retrofitting an existing apparatus," Suvagau says. "What's tricky is that codes, regulations and standards differ between municipalities."

Suvagau adds that in some cases, electrical contractors may need to pay a certification agency to re-certify the fixtures that have been altered or request a variance from the BC Safety Authority/local municipal authority. Your Alliance member can help you determine if a recertification/variance fee applies.

BC Hydro Alliance members provide more than just information about the latest products on the market. Business customers are encouraged to think of BC Hydro Alliance members as a knowledgeable resource. Learn more about the BC Hydro Alliance or call the Power Smart Business Help Desk at 1 866 522 4713.