An Edmonton winter can be shocking to those who have immigrated from warmer climates. And it’s not just the cold and snow, it’s also the cost of energy. This can be overwhelming to newcomers who haven’t experienced it before. Empower Me offers free energy-saving workshops in multiple languages to explain energy choices, home systems, and the effects of their energy use.
“Many newcomers have never had central heat before,” says Nicole Nebril, Empower Me program coordinator. “Add to that the complex Alberta energy landscape—choices around energy retailers, understanding energy bills…there’s a lot to learn.” Nebril immigrated from the Philippines in 2015.
Empower Me helps new Albertans understand home energy systems, energy bills, and incentive programs available to help them save money when upgrading their home or appliances.
The program originated in British Columbia in 2012 and has been in Alberta since 2019. The efforts of the program have resulted in 9,000 fewer tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions to date—the equivalent to taking 2,000 cars off the road for a year. The average Albertan Empower Me participant saves 7.5 tonnes of greenhouse gases emissions—equivalent to the emissions from driving a car coast to coast across Canada more than twice (almost 19,000 km).
Yasmin Abraham, managing director of Empower Me, sees other strengths in the program. “What Empower Me does best is to successfully deliver energy efficiency information to new Canadians—most of whom don’t receive these messages any other way.”
She continues, “Empower Me hires trusted members of the communities we serve as Energy Mentors. They deliver these important messages in their communities.” Because of this, Empower Me ensures these messages are understood by groups who may not receive them otherwise, while also being a proud employer of new Canadians.
Empower Me workshops are available online in Mandarin, Cantonese, Farsi, Hindi, Punjabi, Tagalog, Arabic, and English. “Empower Me shared energy-saving tips I wish had known years ago, like programming my digital thermostat to heat my house less during the day when nobody is home,” says program participant Alvin Dong.
After attending an Empower Me workshop, Dong installed programmable thermostats, efficient lighting, draft proofed his home, and insulated his water pipes. He keeps showers short and turns off appliances when they are not in use. These upgrades and energy-saving behaviours make his home more comfortable and have reduced his impact on the environment, which is important to him.
The program also helps families navigate energy efficiency incentives offered by the City of Edmonton with the HERA (Home Energy Retrofit Accelerator) program, and the new federal government Greener Homes program. Participants can take advantage of both programs and potentially cover up to 100 per cent of their costs for upgrades. Program guidelines can be overwhelming to understand, so Empower Me is happy to help by answering questions via email, phone, or text. Start the conversation by emailing [email protected]. Empower Me is sponsored by EPCOR and the cities of Edmonton and Calgary. To sign up for a free workshop or learn more about the program, visit www.empowerme.ca or email [email protected].
Online workshops available in Mandarin, Cantonese, Farsi, Hindi, Punjabi, Tagalog, Arabic, and English.
The HERA program and the new Greener Homes rebates may cover up to 100 per cent of your costs for upgrades!
Overwhelmed by how to do it? Empower Me is a free program and can offer you help in multiple languages.
Email us at [email protected] and we can help you navigate the process with step-by-step instructions on how to take advantage of these great offers.