Residents of Penticton’s Columbus Park low-income housing units should be seeing lower electricity bills, thanks to FortisBC and the South Okanagan Similkameen Brian Injury Society.
Alice Sidhu can’t say enough good things about SOSBIS, who manage Columbus Park where she and her children have made their home since 2014.
The children play in the background as Sidhu stands in the kitchen, stroking newly installed countertops and chatting about the problems with her old fridge.
That fridge was replaced today — at no charge — thanks to a FortisBC program helping families in non-profit housing lower their electricity bills by replacing old, inefficient fridges with newer units.
Nicole Bogdanovic, communications advisor with Fortis, said they are the most energy efficient fridges they could find. Along with Sidhu’s fridge, they are replacing 30 others at Columbus Park, which expected to save each of the tenants about $96 per year.
For Sidhu, whose electricity bill runs over $300 in the winter, that’s a big savings. She has run weather stripping around her windows and taken other measures, but says they have only helped a little.
“I couldn’t think of why is the power bill so high. I think it’s the fridge,” said Sidhu, leaning against the 20-year-old device. “We’ve had some problems with this fridge since we moved in.”
Linda Sankey, SOSBIS executive director, said that when the society took over the complex, there were upgrades needed, one of which was energy efficiency.
“Their energy bills are quite high. Refrigerator costs are one of the biggest costs they do have, because they run continuously,” said Sankey. “Many of the fridges we have are more than 20 years old. “
Bogdanovic said replacing the fridges on their own would have cost the society about $40,000. Money that might have been spent on fridges can now be used for other upgrades. Since the society took over operation of the complex in 2015, they’ve already increased insulation in the attic spaces and are looking at window and door replacements, among other improvements, like Sidhu’s new countertops.
“I was the first person to touch these counters and I will be the first person to touch this new fridge,” said Sidhu. “I am so thankful to the society for what they have done for me and my family.”
For information on other FortisBC programs and incentives, visit fortisbc.com/getHelp