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Pandemic survival: Surrey family cuts energy costs, gets outside

Kim Rasberry and her teenage daughter contributed a short video to BC Hydro's Symphony of Savings video, which is being used to spread the word about Team Power Smart and recruit more members to the team.

Team Power Smart members feel 'lucky to live in B.C.' during COVID-19

Kim Rasberry has had her fair share of challenges over the years, including the taunts of schoolmates who found her last name ripe, shall we say, for mockery. But while she's never faced anything quite like the COVID-19 pandemic, she feels her and her family have risen to the challenge.

"To be honest, I thought that it would be more difficult with two teenage girls and my husband at home more, especially during the spring and summer," says Kim, who recently took time to submit a short video clip for Team Power Smart's Symphony of Savings recruitment video. "But I've found we've had a lot more family time, and that's been great."

What has helped her family through the challenges of lockdown? Getting out to explore as many local and regional parks as possible. Kim made a habit of organizing an outdoor getaway for the family during weekends over the summer and embraces little daily escapes, such as walking the dog. What she didn't realize at first was just how much the pandemic lockdown here is different from other areas of the world.

Kim discovered that a friend in Barcelona wasn't even allowed to go out on her rooftop deck, while another in Italy said "dog tags" were required for permission to go outside to walk the dog.

"The dog tags would allow them outside for a certain number of times of the day and a certain number of metres around the residence, and police were monitoring it," she marvels. "Apparently, some people who didn't have dogs would borrow their friends' dogs just so they could get outside. But the police figured it out and started fining the dog owners. We're just so lucky to live in B.C."

Image of girls enjoying the Rasberry family hot tub
The hot tub at Kim Rasberry's Surrey home is open again this winter, but shutting it down during the summer months saved the family a bunch on their electricity bill.

Bill savings in a pandemic? Unplugging the hot tub does the trick

Kim says she's had great success in getting the eldest of her two teenage daughters to help spearhead sustainability in the home, from saving electricity to recycling and ensuring that all organics are separated. But the big ticket item to that end was deciding to shut down a hot tub for a few months over the summer.

"The hot tub goes through energy like you wouldn't believe, so we turned it off for probably four or five months – the weather was so hot so we weren't really using it," she says. "We noticed a huge difference in our BC Hydro bill not having it on."

Lessons learned as a Team Power Smart member

A few years ago, Kim's family managed to hit their 10% electricity reduction target and earn a $50 reward through the Team Power Smart Challenge. And now she makes it a habit to check for tips and other ideas in the monthly Connected eNewsletter.

She says her eldest daughter has also been inspired by reading the newsletter.

"She's the first to tell her dad if he's doing something wrong," says Kim.

Not surprisingly, it was her daughter's finger, turning off a light switch with a satisfying "click" that starred in the family's Symphony of Savings video clip submission.

Turning off the lights in unused rooms may not bring as big of energy savings as shutting down a hot tub, but every action counts. Did you know that turning off two 100-watt incandescent bulbs an extra two hours per day could save you $15 over a year? Better yet, switch all those incandescents to LEDs to save even more.