Kamloops successfully engages residents in energy conservation through the 'See the Heat' initiative

The City of Kamloops, in partnership with the Thompson Nicola Regional Library and FortisBC, has developed a program called See the Heat. The program enables community members to borrow a thermal-imaging camera that attaches to their smartphone and allows participants to see where heat is leaking out of their home. This technology provides homeowners with the information required to effectively draft-proof their residence, which can significantly improve comfort and energy efficiency, and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Success Story Snapshot

Energy Savings / GHG Reductions: In Kamloops, single and semi-detached buildings like the ones targeted through the program, emit about 112,000 tCO2e per year (City of Kamloops, 2019). After retrofits are made to the homes targeted by this program, there is potential for a 19.5% energy savings per residence.
Business Case: In Kamloops, energy used in single and semi-detached residential buildings makes up 20% of community-wide emissions, and therefore are a prime target for emission reduction efforts (City of Kamloops, 2019). Reducing GHG emissions is essential for minimizing the long-term costs associated with adapting to and recovering from increasingly likely and severe forest fires, flash floods and other events associated with a warming planet. The See the Heat program also promotes CleanBC incentives for home energy retrofits aimed at reducing the cost of energy for households, which can increase disposable income and, in turn, provide a boost to the local economy.  
Co-benefits: See the Heat supports increased public awareness of the economic benefits of energy retrofits and, by extension, supports the City of Kamloops’ public education on climate action.
Total project cost: As of November 2019, the program cost was $10,394.84. It is below the estimated budget of $12,906.18, as the program’s demand exceeded expectations and fewer funds for marketing were required (City of Kamloops, 2019).

Project Summary

In the spring of 2018, the City of Kamloops ran an internal See the Heat program for staff. This pilot program included 14 participants who took thermal imaging cameras home over a six-week period. In the fall of 2018, FortisBC provided funding for: the purchase of five Android-compatible cameras (to supplement the five iOS-compatible cameras the City already had), funding for 150 draft-proofing kits, and two lunch and learn workshops.
  
In early 2019 the program expanded into the community through a partnership with the Thompson Nicola Regional Library. As a public education campaign, See the Heat provides participants with the tools needed to increase the energy efficiency of their home. The goal of the program is primarily to increase participants’ understanding of where heat loss in a home is occurring and to encourage behavior changes. The program also aims to inform homeowners about opportunities for conducting minor and major energy retrofits. Through FortisBC funding, the program supplies cameras and draft-proofing kits to the public free of charge through the Thompson Nicola Regional Library. The air leaks identified by the thermal imaging camera help participants to use the draft-proofing kits and potentially improve the insulation in their homes, which reduces the energy required for heating and cooling.
 
These retrofits support the City’s Climate Action Plan, which aims to reduce GHG emissions and create a cleaner, healthier future for Kamloops residents (City of Kamloops, 2019). There has been overwhelming interest in the program, with 338 households that have participated as of February 2020. In the spring of 2019, an additional ten cameras were added to the program. Meeting demand for the cameras has been the greatest challenge of the program. 
  

 

The City of Kamloops’ ‘See the Heat’ program received overwhelming public interest, with 339 people having participated as of February 2020

Energy Savings/GHG reductions

Residential buildings in Kamloops make up 20% of community-wide emissions. This makes the reduction of fossil fuel use in homes an important component of community emission reduction efforts. In Kamloops, single and semi-detached buildings, like the ones targeted by the program, emit about 112,000 tCO2e per year collectively (City of Kamloops, 2019). The thermal imaging cameras used by the See the Heat program help participants to understand where air is leaking out of their homes, and provide citizens with tools to improve their home’s airtightness, which can lead to energy savings of as much as 19.5% (City of Kamloops, 2019).

Business Case

Engaging with citizens and encouraging home energy retrofits is essential to reducing community-wide GHG emissions. To meet community-wide GHG emission reduction goals, local governments with climate action plans to decrease GHG emissions benefit from building awareness of, and attracting buy in for, these plans. The See the Heat program is a cost-effective way to increase awareness of the economic value of reducing emissions. With respect to advancing the goal of raising awareness of energy loss in homes, the See the Heat program is a cost-effective program that has a big impact. 
 
See the Heat promotes the CleanBC incentives for energy retrofits; energy retrofits reduce the cost of energy for a household, which increases their disposable income and can provide a boost to the local economy.
 
The City of Kamloops is taking a leadership role in the community to reduce GHG emissions. These efforts are essential to minimize the long-term costs associated with adapting to, and recovering from, increasingly likely and severe forest fires, flash floods and other events associated with a warming world. City-owned infrastructure, services and resources are often strained or damaged in responding to these local crises. Slowing global warming will slow the increase of these costs overtime.
 

Co-Benefits

The See the Heat Program provides individuals and households with a tangible economic example of how to reduce GHG emissions at little or no cost. The program also increases participants’ ability to make changes through home energy retrofits. Climate change mitigation at the community level is greatly dependent on individuals taking action and this program supports that goal.

 

Lessons learned

Thermal imaging is most effective when there is a 10 - 15° degree difference between outside and inside temperatures; conditions that are more common in the winter and summer. Due to long waitlists, many people who signed up for the cameras in January did not receive them until the fall when they are not at their peak effectiveness. This also means that the cameras might not be available when homeowners are undergoing upgrades to their home, a time when the insights gained by the camera could motivate a homeowner to include additional measures to improve the energy efficiency of their home. 
 
Since first offering the cameras on a first come, first served basis, The City of Kamloops now offers workshops where attendees have the opportunity to assess the carbon footprint of their home and transportation choices and then discuss solutions. At these workshops, participants can borrow a camera and receive a draft-proofing kit on the day of the workshop, equipping them to take immediate actions to reduce their home energy use. The draft proofing kits consist of plastic film insulation for windows, electrical switch and outlet draft insulators (the most popular items), and two types of weather stripping for doors and windows (City of Kamloops, 2019).
 

Challenges

The greatest challenge of this program has been keeping up with the demand for the cameras. Initially, social and conventional media were used to promote the program. However, these efforts were suspended due to oversubscription to the service. Another challenge was tracking the success of the program beyond participation. Because the cameras were loaned through the library, privacy protection laws prohibit contacting people based on their borrowing history. This means it has been challenging to encourage participants to complete the follow-up survey, which collects information on how many people used the draft-proofing kits, which part of the kits were used, and which participants decided to undertake retrofits based on information provided through the program. Based on the data from the small sample size of the pilot program 64% of those who used the cameras completed the exercises outlined in the program guide (City of Kamloops, 2019).

Contact: 
Derek de Candole, Community Energy Specialist, City of Kamloops, 250-828-3545, ddecandole@kamloops.ca
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