Energy Savings


How Much Does Electricity Cost?

Categories // Energy Savings

Electricity is measured as you draw from the power grid. It flows from the supply lines and through the electrical meter. As electricity flows through a conductor an electromagnetic field is created. The strength of the electromagnetic field is directly dependant on the amount of electricity being used. The greater the strength of the field the faster the meter spins. Or, the faster the digital meter computes.

Electrical use is measured in Watts. We are billed for electricity use in kWh (kilowatts per hour).

kWh = using 1000 Watts of electricity for 1 hour.

1 kWh = using 10   100W light bulbs for 1 hour     Cost 11 cents

1 kWh = running a 1000W vacuum for 1 hour        Cost 11 cents


We have a two level rate system in BC.  As of April, 2013 the Step 1 rate (up to 1,350 kWh) was 6.9 cents per kWh. The Step 2 rate (above 1,350 kWh) was 10.34 cents per kWh.

Up to about 2006, the rate across the board was 6.55 cents per kWh. Although we have low rates in BC, and most likely always will compared to the rest of the world, electricity rates will continue to increase. BC Hydro now applies other charges on top of electricity use charges, the bills we recive are definitely on the increase

Link to the BC Hydro web page on rates.


There are numerous ways to reduce electricity costs. The simplest is to just turn the power off wheever possible. Energy efficient appliances, timers, dimmers, LED or compact fluorescent bulbs and high efficiency fluorescent ballasts are another solution. Installing energy efficient windows and insulation.

Install a "grid tie" back up power system in your home or business and BC Hydro will pay you for the power you produce

Link to the BC Hydro web page on rebates.

 The energy efficient ballasts are a great thing to do for commercial buildings. The energy savings (40-70%), combined with the rebates now offered by BC Hydro will pay for the entire project in 18-30 months. After that, the savings go directly to the bottom line.

 Our population is increasing, energy use is increasing and electricity rates are increasing. The most efficient solution, from an electrical standpoint, is to build mega-project hydroelectric dams in out of the way places. then build another one on the same river a kilometer below it

British Columbians have been building dams since the turn of the century. The period of greatest activity occurred in the 1950's, 60's, and 70's when BC pursued an aggressive program of large-scale dam construction. Hydroelectric power production (for domestic use and export) was the major purpose of these large-scale dams. Most British Columbians embraced dam construction in the post-war period as a positive step toward economic prosperity. That began to change in the 1970's as residents witnessed the some of the environmental and social costs of dams. The decline of fish stocks and the permanent drowning of productive farmland, valley-bottom forest, scenic canyons, and (in some cases) entire towns fueled a growing public opposition to new dams. During the 1970's and 80's, grass-roots lobbying blocked the construction of new dams on the Skagit, Stikine, and Peace rivers.

Recently, BC's provincial government responded to public opinion by legislatively protecting important salmon rivers against future dams under the Fish Protection Act. In addition, BC has embraced two important programs — the "BC Heritage Rivers System" and the "Canadian Heritage Rivers System" — which officially commemorate BC rivers that represent outstanding values of provincial and national significance. These values include history, culture, economy, recreation, and ecology.

Programs are in place for smaller private projects and many such projects are under way. As a homeowner or business owner you can install a grid-tie system and produce your own electricity. Slowing down your meter or feeding power back into the system and receiving a cheque from BC Hydro.

We want more electricity and we don’t want to pay very much for it. But we also don’t want to build hydroelectric projects. Something will have to give. At the moment, rates are increasing and incentives are being put in place to reduce usage.

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Back-Up Power Systems

Categories // Energy Savings, Back Up Power Systems

Automatic Standby System

In the event of a power outage a voltage sensor automatically turns on the generator which feeds power into your generator panel and out to the associated circuits. This is the most popular and commonly used system for home and business owners.

Generator- natural gas

Automatic Transfer Switch-ensures that no generator power will be fed back into the public electricity grid

Generator Panel-contains the circuits that will be powered by the generator

*this system can also be controlled manually with a manual transfer switch*

Automatic Emergency System

In the event of a power outage a voltage sensor automatically turns on the generator. Electricity is then fed to the generator panel and out to the associated circuits. This system is completely off the fuel grid and has its own fuel source. This system is mainly used in hospitals, government and other institutional buildings.

Generator-diesel, gasoline or liquid propane

Transfer Switch-ensures that no generator power will be fed back into the public electricity grid

Generator Panel-contains the circuits that will be powered by the generator

Rural Areas-this type of system is becoming more common in homes as renewable technology improves. it is usually controlled by a manual transfer switch

Grid Tie Systems

Power is provided through solar, wind and hydroelectric. The power produced is fed through multiple inputs into a controller. Then to an inverter which synchronizes with the power from the public electricity grid. This power can be used in your home or business or fed back into the electrical grid. Depending on how much power your system produces  your electrical meter will either slow down as you use a combination of your own power and the grid's power or your meter will spin backwards resulting in a credit. This system is used in conjunction with either an Automatic Standby System or an Automatic Emergency System.


There are grants and subsidies available for alternate energy sources.  

UPS Systems

Usually used in offices for computers or computer servers. The UPS pack is plugged into the wall outlet, then the computer is plugged into the UPS pack. A battery system takes over when the power fails. The systems are rated according to time. 30 minutes, 60 minutes, 90 minutes etc. A UPS pack will also filter and regulate the voltage output so the connected electronics have a stable voltage input.


Generator Systems


A 1000W - 3500W portable generator can be used with extension cords in an emergency to power things like trouble lights, fans, fridges and freezers.

In an off-grid system, a generator is used as a primary source of power, such as for trailer homes or cabins 


Never backfeed the generator power into your electrical panel. An approved transfer switch must be used. The power will flow through your panel and electrical meter then into the electrical grid. Technicians repairing the damaged power lines can be electrocuted.


For more information or to schedule a free estimate for any of the above power systems visit our website at


Why Install A Heat Pump?

Written by // Mike Devereux Categories // Energy Savings, Heat Pump

This article was written at a time when electricity rates in BC were competitive. They no longer are. (March 2018). AC units make more sense than heat pumps now. Use your AC unit for cooling, natural gas furnace for heating.

However, natural gas is now frowned upon in the zero emissions world and may be phased out in BC, starting in the city of Vancouver and moving outwards from there. Building codes are moving towards uber insulated and airtight buildings with solar and electric heat. We'll have to wait and see what evolves going forward

If you're considering having an AC system installed, make sure to consult an electrician to determine if you'll be exceeding your electrical service size. Its a quick calculation we can typically do over the phone. Call 604-463-6695 for more information


For climates with moderate heating and cooling needs, such as British Columbia, heat pumps can be a cost effective alternative to furnaces and air conditioners. More often they're used as a supplement to a gas furnace. Because a heat pump will generally reduce energy use there are significant rebates offered by both the Federal and Provincial governments totalling $800-$2000 depending on your existing system. This is as of October, 2013. The rebates change frequently, your heat pump installer will be up to date on the current rebates offered if you decide to upgrade your system. With electricity rates increasing (Spring 2015) you may want to set your heat pump to "EM heat". Gas only is used for heating, use your heat pump for air conditioning in the summer


  Heat pumps are often misunderstood or not understood at all. Because of this, you may not realize that there may be a better heating and cooling option than a furnace or air conditioner. A heat pump is an efficient method of cooling your home in the summer and warming it in the winter.

Although heat pumps are new to many people, they have been around for over three decades. Although its name is a little misleading, a heat pump is an efficient method of heating a home during the cold winter months and also cooling it during the hot summer months. Like your refrigerator, heat pumps use electricity to power a compressor which compresses a refrigerant gas. This process produces both heating and cooling. A heat pump looks like an air conditioner, but that’s only the outside appearance. It actually has two functions based on the same principles for both. In warm weather situations, the heat pump works as a normal air conditioner. It extracts heat from inside the home and transfers it to the outdoor air.

In colder weather, however, the process reverses, collecting heat from the outdoor air and transferring it inside your home. Even when the air outside feels extremely cold, the air still contains some heat. The heat pump pulls the heat from this cold outdoor air and sends it inside to warm your home. While many people find the winter operation of a heat pump the most difficult to understand, it is during the heating cycle that the heat pump produces the most savings. Unlike a furnace that turns fossil fuel or electricity into heat, the heat pump collects heat that already exists in the outdoor air by means of its refrigeration cycle. Consequently, a heat pump will produce up to four times more heat than the energy it uses.

In addition, a heat pump can be an effective add-on option to use in conjunction with an existing gas furnace. Heating/Cooling coils are installed at the furnace output ducting. Usually a variable speed motor is installed as well. With a dual-fuel system, the two systems share the heating load but never function at the same time. Each system operates when it is most cost effective. The heat pump will be the primary heating and cooling system. However, when the temperature drops below the heat pump’s ability to operate as efficiently as the gas furnace, the gas furnace will take over until the temperature rises enough for the heat pump to operate more efficiently.

For homes without ducts, air-source heat pumps are also available in a ductless version called a mini-split heat pump. In addition, a special type of air-source heat pump called a "reverse cycle chiller" generates hot and cold water rather than air, allowing it to be used with radiant floor heating systems in heating mode.

Higher efficiencies are achieved with geothermal (ground-source or water-source) heat pumps, which transfer heat between your house and the ground or a nearby water source. Although they cost more to install, geothermal heat pumps have low operating costs because they take advantage of relatively constant ground or water temperatures. However, the installation depends on the size of your lot, the subsoil and landscape. Ground-source or water-source heat pumps can be used in more extreme climatic conditions than air-source heat pumps.


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