Langley can plug into free energy savings workshops

Free workshops are being offered in English, Punjabi, Cantonese, Mandarin, Arabic, and Korean

EmPower Me offers workshops in one of 16 different languages. (EmPower Me website)

Langley can save money on energy bills with upcoming free workshops being offered in various languages.

“We are empowering families in diverse communities to save energy, save money, save the environment, and increase the comfort and safety of their homes and are pleased to have the support of the Township of Langley to help achieve this,” said Doretta Pintaric, communications manager with EmPower Me.

The group has been hosting events around the Lower Mainland since 2012, including several in Langley such as Canada Day and B.C. River’s Day. Most recently, the group had a display at the Cranberry Festival where it offered tips on energy conservation to raise public awareness.

But EmPower Me also offers more in depth workshops for typically 15 to 20 people.

“During our workshop at the local library, we provide a more in-depth introduction to how save energy in their homes, go through utilities’ bills, provide participants with a free energy savings kit worth $90, and offer free home visits to those who are interested,” she explained.

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The Langley workshop start with one Oct. 24 in Arabic. It’s at 12:30 p.m. and happens at the Langley School Board office.

The workshop is offered in Cantonese at 10 a.m. on Nov. 1 and in Korean on that day at 11 a.m. Those are also being held at the school board office in Murrayville.

On Nov. 2, there are three workshops being held at the Muriel Arnason Library in Willowbrook. The Punjabi workshop is at 11 a.m. with the Mandarin at 1 p.m. and the English workshop offered at 2:30 p.m.

A Mandarin workshop is also scheduled for Nov. 22 at the school district office at 10 a.m.

Anyone attending the workshops is asked to bring their electricity bill from their utility provider. A key facet of the workshops is helping participants understand how to read their bill. Those with online billing can attend and access their bills online on their devices during the workshop.

“Understanding how your home heating system works can be intimidating and a source of stress to a newcomer to Canada, especially if you’ve never experienced central heat before,” Pintaric explained. “And it can be compounded when you do not know how to read your utility bill and are not sure where your money is going. Offering this type of education in the appropriate language from a trusted community member, empowers a family to make the decisions that are right for their family.”

The workshops are offered in various languages to give more people a chance to participate. EmPower Me can provide workshops in up to 16 different languages.

“Many newcomers to our country are not familiar with how Canadian homes work and how energy systems connect to their comfort or health,” Pintaric said. “This means families are living with high energy bills, damp or drafty homes, and even mould, mildew or leaking gas. Our program engages tight-knit, multicultural and multilingual communities that have traditionally been difficult for utilities and local governments to reach due to language or trust barriers.”

There are limited numbers of spaces at each of the workshops so people must sign up in advance. Register at empowermeprogram.com/bc or 604-598-8427. There is no cost to attend.

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The EmPower Me program is free thanks to funding partners. In B.C., that currently includes BC Hydro, Fortis BC, the City of North Vanouver, the Township of Langley, and the City of Surrey.

“We are also fortunate to have the support of numerous community partners here in B.C. such as ISS of BC, Pacific Immigrant Resources Society, Mosaic, Options, and S.U.C.C.E.S.S to name a few,” she added.

While the workshops would generally appeal to adults, people with their children aren’t turned away.

“We welcome everybody, and if people want to come with their families, we are an inclusive program and welcome that. We love seeing kids are our workshops,” she said. “They can be a great motivator for some of the behaviour change we encourage through our workshops. Who better to remind the family to take shorter showers, or put on a sweater instead of turning up the heat, than our children?”

The workshops has been well received in the seven years they’ve been offered.

“We are hearing highly positive feedback from our participants,” Pintaric said. “Many are installing some elements of energy saving kit during our home visits. Also, there are a lot of learnings in terms of home safety. For example, [participants] are learning some really important messages that they have never heard before such as that the smoke alarms have expiry date, or that you have to test them on a regular basis and change batteries.

“What we appreciate the most is hearing that [they] feel empowered to make decisions that will benefit their family, not only in reducing their environmental footprint, but in lowering their energy bills and making their homes safer and more comfortable.”

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