September 11, 2013 - The award recipient in the Small Business Category of the Surrey Board of Trade’s Environment and Business Awards is Empower Me—a program created by Quality Program Services (QPS), which focuses on “transforming households, organizations” through energy-use reduction.
By Anthony Capkun
“We are thrilled to have Empower Me recognized by the Surrey Board of Trade,” said Yasmin Abraham, business development manager for QPS (photo). “It is rewarding to be acknowledged for the work we are doing locally to conserve energy.”
Funded primarily by FortisBC, Empower Me is a pilot energy conservation program created specifically for South Asian and Chinese families who are unfamiliar with equipment common in North American homes e.g. furnaces, hot water tanks and thermostats. The program’s Energy Mentors—who are also members of the South Asian and Chinese communities—were hired and trained by QPS to teach their network of family and friends how to use the equipment efficiently to make their homes more comfortable, and to save money on the cost of energy.
Energy Mentors provide one-to-one energy efficiency education in the participant’s own language; develop a long-term energy savings plan for each participant; provide energy-saving measures, including aerators for faucets, energy-saving showerheads and draft-proofing supplies; and help participants find and apply for grant and rebate programs for which they may qualify. The program is free to all participants.
“FortisBC is proud to support Empower Me,” said Sarah Smith, FortisBC director of energy efficiency and conservation. “Together, space and water heating make up about 75% of the energy used in customers’ homes and offer the greatest opportunity for customers to reduce their energy bills. By educating them through initiatives like Empower Me, we’re able to help our customers conserve energy and take advantage our rebates.”
“This program is one-of-a-kind,” continued Yasmin. “By making energy-saving behaviour normal within the South Asian and Chinese communities, we are causing a reduction in energy use by program participants. Empower Me would not be successful without the support of the community itself, which has embraced it from the start. FortisBC has been especially supportive of the program, which aligns with their desire to create a culture of conservation and ensure that all of their customers have access to, and can take advantage of, their energy-saving offers and rebates.”