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Sky-high lighting costs prompt family business to move

January 14, 2015 - Jas Bains knows the value of a dollar. That’s why she used to cringe every time the BC Hydro bill arrived for the Family Dollar Store she co-owns in Kamloops.


January 14, 2015
January 14, 2015
By BC Hydro

Bains knew her electricity costs were sky-high because of the store’s outdated lights and lighting fixtures. To make matters worse, the store’s halogen bulbs were burning out on a weekly basis and Bains had to climb a wobbly extension ladder to replace them.

Tired of high electricity bills and non-stop maintenance, she consulted customers, friends, relatives and neighbours. Should she stay and spend the money to upgrade the store’s lighting, or should she relocate?

Then a competitor set up shop close by. Suddenly, Bains had a decision to make: close the store or move to a smaller location to remain competitive.

For Bains, walking away from the family business was not an option, and she was determined to find a new, smaller location with energy-efficient lighting. After visiting potential locations with her daughter, Hamreet, Bains decided on a 3000-sf store just 10 blocks from her old one.

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“The location was great, and the size and layout of the store were perfect, but we noticed the store had the exact same lights and fixtures as our old location,” said Hamreet.

The landlord must have sensed the Bains’ disappointment. He agreed to defer rent for three months if the pair wanted to renovate the store to meet their franchise agreement requirements and retrofit the lights.

“Honestly, we knew next to nothing about construction or energy-efficient lighting,” admitted Hamreet. “We talked to a lot of different contractors and lighting companies. It was tiring and confusing because the proposals and cost estimates we received were so different.”

They expressed their frustration to their landlord. That’s when he put them in touch with Allan Crawford, a Kamloops local whose company is a member of the Power Smart Alliance.

Crawford talked to the Bains at length about their requirements: they wanted contemporary-looking, energy-efficient lighting that required little maintenance. The lighting layout in the new store also needed to be reconfigured to suit a retail environment.

Crawford submitted his project proposal that, to the Bains’ surprise and delight, included a Power Smart rebate. “None of the other proposals we reviewed included a Power Smart rebate,” Hamreet recalled.

The store’s renovations were almost done in early January 2014, so Crawford and his team got to work: they installed 135 4-ft T8s using electronic ballasts. The lighting installation took just three days and the upgrade qualified the store for a $1562 Power Smart rebate. The rebate, combined with the projected annual cost savings of $1,613.52/year, gives the store an estimated payback period of just nine months.

Even better, not a single light bulb has had to be replaced since January, which, Hamreet said happily, means her mom’s extension ladder is right where it should be: collecting dust in the maintenance closet.