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Five things you need to know about the Efficiency BC website

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One of the features on the new EfficiencyBC website are offers focused on reducing GHG emissions. That's a new focus for BC Hydro, and for Alliance members.

BC Government site helps residents, businesses, find ways to save

With the recent launch of the EfficiencyBC website, there's now a central place to explore all available energy-related incentives for homes and businesses in B.C.

Run by the Province of BC, efficiencybc.ca is designed to zero in on greenhouse gas emission reductions available via new building construction and renovations. It will be a time saver for contractors, business owners, and residents alike, as BC Hydro incentives sit alongside offers from FortisBC, provincial incentives, and localized municipal rebates.

Tools on the site are set up for you to search for help around the type of work you're investigating, and the building systems involved.

"The site brings all the programs together nicely," says Tanya Perewernycky, an account manager with BC Hydro's Alliance of Energy Professionals. "It allows you to look for savings from a business perspective or as a resident. It's easy to see which options are out there."

Navigating the site is straightforward, starting with a landing page that helps you zero in on incentives and advice around one of four distinct areas:

  • Residential renovations
  • Residential new construction
  • Commercial renovations
  • Commercial new construction

Here are five things Alliance members should know about the new site.

1. Not all offers are about saving electricity

With EfficiencyBC's emphasis on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, not all offers on the site are about reducing electricity bills. Incentives such as the EfficiencyBC Custom-Lite Program will add up to major GHG savings but may also add to electricity costs. The idea is to shift customers' energy spend from fossil fuels toward clean and renewable electricity.

"Now we're looking at mechanical systems, such as adding a heat pump to a gas furnace," says Perewernycky. "For example, a customer who has gas for heating their building may want to put in a heat pump that's powered by electricity. They would be switching off some or all of their gas load over to electricity so that they can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And that will increase their electrical consumption."

Customers will need to be educated on the trade-offs involved in making a fuel switch as they make their decision.

"This custom light program offer is a shift for us at BC Hydro," says Perewernycky. "Before, we were only looking at efficiencies that would reduce electricity use. Now we're looking at some things that reduce GHGs and in doing so increase the use of our clean electricity by our customers. And that requires us to have a new conversation with the customer."

2. Incentives are searched by geography

One of the useful features of the website's incentives search tool is that you first pick your city or town before you search. That allows residential customers, in particular, to see any municipal or other local offers available to them.

For example, a residential renovations search for Kamloops produces all the programs and incentives available in the city, including a City of Kamloops $150 top-up incentive for Energuide Home Evaluations.

3. There's a wealth of deep-dive resources for contractors

Each sub-section of the site includes a comprehensive list of resources of great use to Alliance members. For example, commercial buildings resources cover topics from ENERGY STAR® certification, construction best practices and energy benchmarking to a variety of reports and case studies.

4. It's a great primer for business owners and residents

Potential clients can use efficiencybc.ca as a comprehensive look at the various incentives and resources available to help them make their home or business more efficient. EfficiencyBC makes it easy to get an idea of available savings, with specific potential dollar amounts highlighted in the results pages of the incentive search tool.

5. Energy coaches are available to answer questions

For residential customers, the site promotes the use of EfficiencyBC Energy Coaches, who can be contacted – free of charge – to answer questions around the specifics of home renovations and new construction. With background in building science, energy coaches offer advice on upgrades and also serve as a link to program experts including Alliance members.

The site also provides links and listings of contractors and energy advisors for EnerGuide home evaluations.