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A few years back, Michelle Tapp discovered that if her family could reduce their electricity use by 10% over 12 months, they would get a $50 reward from Team Power Smart. Then she discovered online tracking of electricity at MyHydro, and there was no going back.

“Michelle is very together in watching electricity usage online on MyHydro, with all that the hourly and daily information,” says Randy Tapp, whose crew teamed up for two straight $50 rewards in the 10% Team Power Smart Reduction Challenge at their Courtenay home. “She keeps a very close eye on that, and it’s amazing how you can see the effects of all the little things you do.”

Some changes in the Tapp family’s home are, indeed, little – such as taking care to switch lights off when leaving a room. But you don’t reduce your BC Hydro bills by almost a quarter with a flick of the switch.

A family approach to not wasting energy:

  • When the Tapp’s got tired of cold feet in their home, they re-insulated the crawlspace with new R45-rated that was causing the problem. “The difference walking around the house is incredible,” says Randy.

  • When they saw on MyHydro how much energy their hot tub was using, they made a family decision to shut it down for winter, the time when they use the tub the least, and when heating the water uses the most energy.

  • And when the Tapps got a bright green egg-timer in the mail from Team Power Smart, they challenged each other to use the timer – which comes with a handy suction cup you can stick to a shower wall – to shorten their showers to four minutes or less.

“My boys were known, as teenagers, to be in there a little while,” says Randy, with a laugh. “I think the fact that there’s three guys in this home, with not a lot of hair to wash, makes it work. I talked to people at my work about this – I work with a lot of women – and they say with their long hair there’s no way they could ever wash their hair in four minutes.”

Other changes that have, in combination, added up to big savings? Hang-drying laundry. Unplugging as many devices as possible when they’re not being used. Switching to an ENERGY STAR® washer-dryer and upgrading windows that face the worst of the area’s stormy weather.

Down at the farm, 12 puppies arrive

The Tapps are used to having animals around their home, where their 3.5 acres was at one time populated by horses, goats, pigs, chickens, ducks and a few rams. “We’ve really narrowed it down because we both work so much,” says Randy. “Now we just have horses and goats.”

Not to mention three St. Bernards, down from a population spike of 12 – courtesy of a litter of 12 puppies – born earlier this year.

FYI, says Randy, the puppies were tough on the home energy bill, as they were so small initially that the Tapps set up heat lamps to keep them warm. Not that that had anything to do with the fact they’re in new homes.

“Both me and Michelle are going through withdrawal,” he says. “Fortunately, the people we gave the puppies to are nice enough to send us videos and pictures on a regular basis, and four of them are local, so we get to see them.”

The benefits of using a licensed contractor

If you choose to use a licensed contractor for the work, insulation rebates – the Home Renovation Rebate and EfficiencyBC program – can take some of the sting out of installation costs. Crawlspace insulation rebates of up to $1,200 are available, along with insulations for attics, walls, and basements. You don’t, however, get the rebates if you do it yourself.

Freezing feet? The Tapp’s share their solution