Research shows that 40 percent of all U.S. energy is consumed by buildings and 30 percent of that energy is wasted. Power Plus is bcW's energy education initiative addressing many of the underlying social, economic, and environmental factors that influence energy use. The initiative focuses the energy conversation within the scale of the home and employs high-tech and hands-on design tools that enable residents to make informed energy choices in the operation of their home in order to live a more sustainable lifestyle.
The high-tech side of the program utilizes an energy monitoring system called The Energy Detective (TED) to measure individual circuits and display real-time electricity cost within the home. Kill-a-Watt meters measure additional plug loads, creating a data-rich inventory of the home environment. bcWORKSHOP prepares detailed, graphic monthly reports of this data visualizing the home's energy use supplementing traditional utility bills.
The hands-on side involves a game-board style toolkit facilitating conversations about saving energy and money. The toolkit guides residents through a three month, seven meeting (4 weekly, then 2 bi-weekly, and 1 final month) discovery process with a bcWORKSHOP Energy Advisor. Visual tools including an annual graph of past power usage and the home's projected baseline performance serve as a guide for residents to inform decisionmaking, evaluate performance and achieve power usage goals. Using the toolkit, residents graph the weekly cost of appliances/activities separately, identifying the most costly behaviors. Additionally, a set of cards illustrate the cost per hour for each appliance and provides recommendations for saving money through either increased efficiency or conservation.
The high-tech and hands-on tools are deployed together encouraging dialogue and providing data. This coupled with energy saving actions and a feedback mechanism measuring action effectiveness helps residents make more informed choices. In this way, Power Plus demystifies the cost of electricity.