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In Salmon Arm, son saves family business $900 a year

Nico's Nursery business saves $900 a year from energy incentives
Marty van der Pauw, shown here with his sister Maaike Johnson, convinced his dad that replacing T12 lights at the family's Salmon Arm nursery would pay off, thanks to incentives from BC Hydro. Now the nursery is looking at about $900 a year in savings due to the upgrade.

Incentives and annual savings convince dad to flip the switch

It took Marty van der Pauw months to convince his Dad to replace the T12s in their Salmon Arm nursery. Once he did, they started saving money immediately.

van der Pauw knew his family nursery's electricity costs were sky-high because of the store's outdated T12 fluorescent lamps. To make matters worse, their T12s were burning out on a regular basis and maintenance staff had to use a forklift to reach the 30-foot high, surface-mounted fixtures.

"Replacing burnouts was a real pain because of the high ceilings," says van der Pauw, who co-manages the family nursery with his sister Maaike Johnson. "Climbing a ladder to replace a lamp doesn't take that long, but bringing in a forklift every time you need to deal with a burnout is pretty inconvenient. Also, it was becoming impossible to find replacement lamps. No one sells T12s anymore."

van der Pauw and Johnson decided to talk to their dad. He was reluctant to the change lights. They'd used T12s since they opened in 1998, and a change seemed expensive. "His feeling was, the lights work fine, why change them, especially if it's a non-essential upgrade."

"I get it, we're a small business and cash isn't easy to come by," says van der Pauw, "but Maaike and I knew we'd be able to save money and improve the quality of light in the store, which had a real clinical-feel, if we got rid of the T12s."

The siblings, used to getting their hands dirty, got to work. They consulted a local electrician about changing the lights, and searched online for the right solution. "We quickly realized that BC Hydro would give us a decent incentive if we replaced the T12s."

They pitched the idea to their dad, who on seeing the incentive amount – about $1,800 – and the projected annual cost savings – about $900 a year – didn't take long to come around. He gave them the green light to replace the lamps.

Older lamps replaced in just a few days

In early January 2015, with the busy holiday season behind them, they got going. With the help of an electrician, they removed a total of 42 T12 lamps from the garden centre – eight four-foot T12s and 36 eight-foot T12s, all of which used magnetic ballasts – and installed 42 four-foot T8 using electronic ballasts. The installation took just a couple of days.

What was dad's reaction to the new lights? "I think his words were, wow," says van der Pauw with a smile.

These days dad is spending more and more time growing veggies and hanging baskets at the van der Pauw's second, quieter location in Blind Bay, B.C. A sign, perhaps, that he thinks his kids have a pretty good handle on things back in Salmon Arm.