Energy efficiency in the context of overall home upgrading was already well underway in the Anderson household.
Dave was following his wife, Sheila, into retirement, so they wisely undertook a series of big-ticket replacements for their 19-year-old split-level home in Westsyde.
“Before he retired, we put in a high-efficiency furnace, re-insulated and re-did the roof, so our bills have really dropped,” Sheila said.
In April, with Dave away on a spring skiing trip, Sheila entered a B.C. Hydro Power Smart contest to win an energy-efficient home makeover with interior designer Jillian Harris.
Contest entries had to include an energy-saving tip.
“Wash laundry in cold water and to cut down on dryer time, put a dry towel in the dryer with the wet clothes,” she suggested, and her name was entered in a draw with 3,000 others.
There is a cry-wolf element to online contests. People receive so many e-mails telling them they’ve won something, they’re inclined to be skeptical.
Sheila was having computer spam problems, so when the e-mail popped up telling her she’d won the Power Smart contest, she initially ignored it. Then curiosity took control and she had a peak, fortunately, because she had a limited time frame in which to respond. Sure enough, her name had come up on the draw, making her the winner of improvements worth about $5,000.
“I didn’t believe her at first,” Dave said. “I knew nothing of it.”
“With this, hopefully we’ll see some bigger savings,” she said.
Now they have some extra financial momentum to get them started on their retirement years with a home primed for economy. And they’ve got Harris to help them along.
“She has given me some good ideas,” Sheila said.
Harris shot to stardom on reality show Bachelorette (and, no, she never married Ed Swiderski; they called off their engagement). An interior designer by trade, she went on to host the TV show Extreme Makeover: The Home Edition and Canada’s Handyman
Challenge. She’s also decorating the PNE Prize Home, which will be relocated to Sun Peaks Resort at fair’s end.
“I’ve just got a car full of accessories here I’m going to unload,” she said, en route to the PNE when The Daily News caught up to her.
She thinks of herself now, not as a celebrity, but as a local designer based out of Kelowna with the sort of profile B.C. Hydro wanted to help publicize its Power Smart conservation objectives.
“I’d been working with B.C. Hydro already, so this collaboration was a no-brainer. I’d done some commercials in the spring for Power Smart. The idea here is to promote general changes of behaviour when it comes to decorating and design.
“I believe B.C. Hydro’s really opened my eyes a lot in terms of environmentally friendly design — the right paints and finishes, furniture and fixtures, and appliances. I’ve always been conscious of that.”
She visited with the Andersons recently to offer direct input. The designer’s conclusion: “Lovely couple with a lovely home. I don’t think they need any renovations.”
But their energy-saving initiatives could use some tweaking.
“The easiest thing for the Andersons and the rest of the community is changing out their incandescent light bulbs for energy-efficient bulbs.”
It’s been drummed home many times: Switching to LED (light-emitting diodes) and CFLs (compact fluorescent lights) may cost a wee bit more upfront, but they save in the long run through extended life and reduced power draw.
As Pat Mathot, manager of residential Power Smart, pointed out, Energy Star-rated LEDs use 75 per cent less energy than incandescent lighting. They can last up to 25 years. Similarly rated CFL lights use about 75 per cent less energy than standard lighting.
For years, homeowners resisted LEDs due to their higher cost and the unresolved matter of their recycling. The cost has dropped, however, and Hydro has worked with industry to improve recycling. There are now more than 170 recycling depots provincewide that take the burned-out bulbs.
“It is something we really want to make people aware of,” Mathot said.
Thermal integrity is another key factor in home energy savings. The Andersons were already ahead of the game there with their insulation improvements.
“The more you can do to minimize the difference between indoor and outdoor temperature, the more you’ll save.”
An often overlooked drain on energy — 15 to 20 per cent — is the combined usage of home electronics such as TVs, PVRs, computers and iPads, Mathot noted. Some draw as much energy when they “sleep” as when they’re operating. Kill the power at the outlet, he recommends.
Kamloops homes can benefit from increased shade on windows to reduce the transfer of summer heat. Something as simple as internal or external shades can reduce air-conditioning costs.
“You know, it’s funny,” Mathot said. “Some of the old-fashioned approaches work.” Take the simple clothesline, for example. Hanging out the laundry rather than putting it in the dryer can save up to 10 per cent on energy.
The biggest change Harris is working on is the Anderson’s laundry room. It may not sound exciting to some, but just try going without one for a few weeks.
“A nice washer and dryer, to me, is pretty sexy,” Harris said.
Appliances are among a home’s biggest energy users. The Andersons were ready to change out theirs.
“At the point where they need to be replaced, what you really want to look for is the most energy-efficient product on the market,” Mathot said, comparing the difference to a Prius and a Hummer in the automotive world.
Energy Star and Power Smart stickers can help point the right direction.