Stories & Features

You're part of an amazing team walking the talk on conservation

Image of a family standing next to a lake in British Columbia
Surveys show that Team Power Smart members are consistently more likely to adopt energy-saving and other conservation behaviours than the general B.C. population.

Team Power Smart manager loves what he sees from members over the years

Arien Korteland can't quite believe the response of Team Power Smart members to virtually everything the program throws at them. And as the team continues to grow, he's determined to offer members like you new challenges and ideas.

"I know it might sound hokey, but Team Power Smart members are remarkable people," says Korteland, program manager for Team Power Smart. "They are truly different than most British Columbians. If you look at even the most mundane metrics, like their willingness to read our newsletters and energy-saving tips, their willingness to participate in surveys or to participate in technology trials, their engagement is higher across the board.

"And members hit it out of the park in what matters most to us: actions that cut energy use. They're consistently more likely to do things like hang-dry laundry, turn lights off in unused rooms, and use cold water for laundry."

Launched in the fall of 2008 and now numbering nearly 175,000 members, Team Power Smart started as a unique offering among North American electrical utilities. And it continues because the program's energy savings are verified through independent impact evaluations. That's the proof that BC Hydro's investment in the team is paying off in real energy savings.

A recent BC Hydro survey shows that Team Power Smart members are consistently more likely than non-members to adopt energy reduction and other conservation behaviours. For more than two dozen actions in the survey – ranging from only cooling occupied rooms, to taking five-minute showers, to purchasing the most energy-efficient bulbs – the vast majority of members reported adhering to those efficient behaviours. And in several actions, such as turning off lights in unused rooms, more than 90% of Team Power Smart members deliver on those energy-saving measures.

Members keep working the 10% Reduction Challenge

Members' success in the 10% Reduction Challenge is another example of how engaged the team is. Despite the fact that a chunk of team members who take the Challenge each year are doing it for the second, third, fourth or even fifth time – and that it's harder to lower usage by 10% after you've already lowered by that amount – the percentage of members who deliver and earn the $50 reward remains fairly consistent. Roughly one third of those in the Challenge save at least 10% and earn the reward, and another third save some energy and reduce their BC Hydro bills, but don't hit the 10%.

That success rate has continued despite the fact that people have spent so much more time at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Team Power Smart relaxed the Challenge success rate a tad to compensate for that fact, but Korteland still finds the response amazing.

"Members deserve a pat on the back," says Korteland. "One thing we know about Team Power Smart members is that as soon as you give them a challenge, they tend to rise to the occasion."

Over the last five years, Team Power Smart members have delivered 9.4 Gigawatt-hours of combined energy savings. That's enough to power about 830 B.C. homes each year, or all the homes in the town of Nakusp, B.C.

'Doing things a little bit differently', without sacrificing lifestyle

BC Hydro spends a lot of time encouraging residential customers to pay attention to electricity use without asking for anyone to sacrifice their comfort and lifestyle. Actions such as turning off lights or heat in vacant rooms have significant impact, and most Team Power Smart members understand this.

"There are team members that have incredibly low electricity usage, who have taken the opportunity to go further than most people will go," says Korteland. "We don't want to recommend that people sit around in the dark, and we don't want this to be about sacrifice. Members seem to have the interest and capability of living their lives in very efficient, environmentally-conscious ways without giving up stuff.

"They know that if you do things a little bit differently, it's not difficult, not cumbersome. These changes don't impact your quality of life, but they do result in lower electricity usage."