Energy incentives for South Okanagan residents

FortisBC is introducing a new program in the South Okanagan, aimed at lowering both energy use and utility bills.

FortisBC is introducing a new program in the South Okanagan, aimed at lowering both energy use and utility bills.

The Energy Conservation Assistance Program participants will receive, at no cost, a visit by an energy evaluator who will provide a home energy assessment and personalized energy saving advice. The evaluator will also install simple energy savings products like LED light bulbs, low-flow shower and tap heads along with draft proofing.

The inspection doesn’t stop with basic upgrades. The home will be assessed to determine if it’s suitable for insulation upgrades, a refrigerator upgrade or a more energy-efficient furnace.

“Anything that is 20 years or older, in that range, we will replace it with a new Energy Star refrigerator and take the old one away to be recycled. The same thing goes for insulation and furnaces,” said Fortis representative Carol Suhan, who introduced ECAP to Penticton City Council at their Nov. 16 meeting.  “The value of the service can be anywhere from $500 to $9,000.”

For the resident, she continued, that could mean anywhere from $150 to $500 per year in savings.

Another difference with ECAP is that it is aimed at renters and homeowners with low or fixed incomes. While the program is also available to customers on the city-owned power utilities in Penticton and Summerland,  all participants will have to meet the low-income requirement, which Suhan said is set to 30 per cent above Statistic Canada’s low income threshold.

The income for a single-person household would have to be less than $31,700 to qualify at the bottom end of the scale ranging up to household with seven or more, where the income would have to be less than $83,700.

Mayor Andrew Jakubeit said he was impressed the program included renters, and the availability of a similar program for apartment building owners, which includes assistance and rebates in upgrading the buildings and a free energy assessment for common areas.

“For renters, there wasn’t a lot of incentive for the property owners to upgrade the energy efficiency, because the tenant always paid the utility bill. And the tenant never had an opportunity to invest,” said Jakubeit, who asked what the budget for the program was.

“We have set aside for 250 single family homes and 1,500 apartment suites,” said Suhan. “We have already decided we will reallocate budget, as much as we can, so we can do as many homes as possible. We expect this program to go on for the next two to five years.”

For more information about the ECAP program or to apply for an assessment, visit fortisbc.com/myecap.