Finalists gear up to cut power use

29. března 2013 v 7:31 |  Led ceiling light
The BC Hydro Small Business Energy Challenge is a way to encourage businesses to take a hard look at their power consumption and see if they can significantly reduce use of electricity, says Hydro's Christy Intihar.

"The object of the contest is to show how businesses can reduce their electricity usage - and their monthly power bill - in a variety of ways including things that don't cost much at all, such as changing behaviour, all without negatively impacting their business operations," said Intihar.

"This is the fourth year of the contest and energy makeovers Power Smart has run with small businesses. Our overall goal is to showcase how real-life small business can reduce their electricity consumption and still run a successful business.

"Hopefully, the contest will inspire other small business owners to decide they, too, could benefit from some of the energy-saving measures they have seen the contestants use," she said.

The two finalists have the next few months to prepare, then will compete head-to-head in July and August to see who can save the largest percentage of power.

In addition to learning how to be energy smart, the winner will be profiled in newspapers and business and trade magazines, will have exposure in BC Hydro social media channels and will receive a certificate acknowledging the win.

The finalists for BC Hydro's Power Smart Small Business Energy Challenge will pit one of Burnaby's top restaurants - the Pear Tree - against Back in Motion, a Richmond rehabilitation and physiotherapy centre that treats injured WorkSafeBC clients.

Whichever manages the greatest percentage cut in energy use during July and August - compared to the amount of power consumed for the same period last year - will be declared the winner in October to mark Power Smart Month.

To help them, the finalists will receive $5,000 to spend on making their premises more energy efficient. They also get an an energy coach to advise them on how best to cut down electrical consumption.

"Restaurants use five times more power than normal businesses. We run a lot of power because we're feeding people. We have heating, air conditioning, refrigeration, ventilation, kitchen equipment and lots of lights. We have about 80 light fixtures. I sometimes think my main job here is washing windows, washing glasses and changing light bulbs," said Jaeger.

"I change a lot of light bulbs." Most of the light bulbs in the dining room are halogen, which have a short lifespan.

LED bulbs would draw only a fraction of the power and would last a lot longer but, Stephanie Jaeger said installing those might not be an option.

"LEDs would change the colour of the food. The incandescent bulbs are warmer and they give out a yellow hue, but RGB led tend to be blue and how the food looks is very important," she said. "I don't think we will be going with LEDs."

Pettyfer's attention was concentrated on the enormous hood fan hanging over the gas-fired range that ventilates the kitchen, sucking out cooking odours as well as pulling the air from the dining room.

"We use electricity to heat up the dining room and it all gets pulled into the fan," complained Jaeger. "Then we have to reheat the air again." In the summer, it will be drawing the air-conditioned air out.

The hood was installed two years ago at a cost of $40,000 and Pettyfer said it might be possible to modify the way the fan operates.

"I would like to see if we can put a variable speed motor on the fan so it can be set to lower speeds when it's not necessary to have it going full out," said Pettyfer.

He looked at all the appliances, the heating and air-conditioning systems, thermostats, lighting fixtures and refrigeration units. He came up with 11 recommendations, including a variable speed motor for the fan, high-efficiency motors for the walk-in cooler's evaporating fans, strip curtains on the door of the walk-in cooler, motion sensors to operate lights and fans in the cooler and in both washrooms, changing the lights in the kitchen from incandescent to LED, insulating hot water pipes and installing a low-flow pre-rinse spray valve on a kitchen tap to replace a high-volume valve.

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