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Advisors help businesses get the most out of incentives – for free

Image of Marilyn Christensen and Mary Zuccaro
Mary Zuccaro (left) and Marilyn Christensen are members of our Business Energy Advisors team. They offer free advice to B.C. businesses on how to do energy efficiency upgrades with the help of BC Hydro incentives.

Business Energy Advisors know their stuff

You called a lot. So much so, that, two new Business Energy Advisors have been added to the fold to help meet the growing demand for free, in-person energy assessments around the province.

Marilyn Christensen and Mary Zuccaro are the newest members of the team. The pair, with more than a decade of experience between them, will focus on needs of commercial (Christensen) and industrial customer's (Zuccaro) in the Fraser Valley, one of B.C.'s fastest growing regions.

Vancouver Island, the Okanagan and Kootenay regions and northern B.C. will continue to enjoy the same level and quality of service experienced in the past year.

Earlier this month we caught up with Christensen and Zuccaro for a joint-interview to discuss energy, tricks of the trade, and some of the common mistakes customers make. A few of the answers took us by surprise — they may surprise you too.

Q. What's the first thing a customer asks about when you walk in the door?

A. Christensen: Commercial customers always ask about lighting incentives; then they ask about BC Hydro's incentive application process.

A. Zuccaro: Usually, industrial customers ask me how they can improve the quality of task lighting in their facility without compromising safety. Then they ask about incentives.

Q. What are customers most intimidated about when it comes to energy efficiency?

A. Christensen: Product knowledge; for example, how to distinguish between an LED, halogen and incandescent light bulb.

A. Zuccaro: I agree; also, I think customers worry that if they move forward with an upgrade that they're going to bite off more than they can chew. Retrofits take time. Working with an energy advisor, like Marilyn or I, can help smooth and even speed up the whole process. At the end of the day our goal is to make life as easy as possible for the business owner.

Q. What's the best energy management tool out there for BC Hydro business customers?

A. Christensen: Definitely MyHydro. It gives customers their business' electricity use in real-time, and it's free.

A. Zuccaro: I agree; industrial businesses are also able to see their peak demand and power factor, which are very important aspects of industrial energy management.

Q. What's a common misstep that customers make?

A. Christensen: For commercial businesses, it's the small things, like leaving the lights on, or leaving a computer on all night.

A. Zuccaro: By far and away [for industrial customers], it's a lack of maintenance of compressed air systems. Leaks are really common — and costly.

Q. Name three easy, low-cost efficiency upgrades that you suggest customers consider.

A. Christensen: Replace outdated incandescent bulbs with screw-in LEDs, install LED exit signs, and use power saver bars. Power saver bars are great for plugging in devices such as cell phone chargers and computers. When not in use, just flip the power bar to off and standby power is eliminated.

Zuccaro: Install motion sensors, they can cut workplace energy costs by as much as 20%. Also, create operating procedures for staff, like mapping out a specific time of day a piece of equipment is turned on or off. And finally, put someone in charge of turning off the lights at the end of the day.

Q. Name three higher cost upgrades that you think are worth every penny.

A. Christensen: Replace T12 fluorescent lamps with LEDs, replace 400-watt metal halides with LEDs, and install a heat pump.

A. Zuccaro: Evaluate capacitors, update the compressed air system, and switch high bay lighting to LEDs.

Q. What's the best part of your job?

A. Christensen: The best part of my job? Building quality, ongoing relationships with my customers.

A. Zuccaro: Saving energy, of course.

To book your free appointment with a BC Hydro Business Energy Advisor, contact the Business Help Desk at 1 866 522 4713.