Habitat for Humanity Saves Energy 2


As Habitat for Humanity is expanding into its second ReStore in Basalt, it is again turning to the Holy Cross Energy electric co-op and its We Care energy efficiency program for help. A lighting upgrade done at the Habitat ReStore on Highway 82 in 2013 netted a 66 percent savings in energy use and inspired the new retrofit.

“As we say at our ReStore – buy green and save green, so we can build green,” says Scott Gilbert, president of Habitat for Humanity for the Roaring Fork Valley.

Savings at the Highway 82 Store

In 2012, Habitat moved its ReStore to the former Farmhouse Furniture building on Highway 82 near Cattle Creek. Outdated fluorescent lighting there did little to feature Habitat’s used furniture, cabinets and appliance bargains. Even worse, lighting was costing the nonprofit more than $700 a month. Seeking better light and cost savings, Gilbert and Habitat executive director Kristen Wilmes hired Expert Electric of Rifle. Their electrician Jim Larrechea suggested an energy audit from the in-house team of energy efficiency experts at Holy Cross. Together, they planned a complete lighting overhaul.

The March 2013 overhaul of the showroom swapped out heat-producing 65-watt halogen lights with cool, bright and efficient T5 high bay fluorescent fixtures, along with a few LED track lights for emphasis. In the adjacent warehouse, Larrechea removed old metal halide and T12 fixtures and replaced them with T5 high bay fluorescent fixtures. The store reduced its electricity demand from about 8,300 kilowatt-hours per month to about 2,800 kWh, cutting monthly electric costs for lighting from $722 to $245.

“It was dark and dreary, and now it looks great,” Wilmes says.

Rebates from Holy Cross Energy and the Garfield Clean Energy community program covered half of the project cost of $14,600, cutting Habitat’s out-of-pocket cost to $7,300. With annual electric savings of $5,700, the project paid for itself in about 15 months.

Holy Cross Energy Tallied 1,000 Upgrades in 2014

Seeking deeper energy savings from its We Care program, in 2013, Holy Cross Energy set a five-year goal; for Holy Cross customers to save 33,000 megawatt-hours of electricity per year by 2017. That’s equal to all the electricity used annually by 2,457 homes in the Holy Cross service area, which spreads across Eagle, Pitkin and Garfield counties.

In 2014 alone, more than 1,000 energy upgrades done by 829 Holy Cross customers saved 10,106 megawatt-hours of electricity, according to Mary Wiener, energy efficiency program administrator for Holy Cross.

“This is on top of 6,241 megawatt-hours of annual savings from projects done in 2013, such as the Habitat ReStore, so we are halfway to our goal in the first two years,” Wiener says. “These savings will continue for years into the future.” Holy Cross provides expert help and rebates and helps hundreds of residential and commercial customers to save energy.

“We understand that people appreciate getting help, and the rebates show our customers that we are their partner in energy efficiency,” says Wiener.

“Why would a utility want its customers to use less electricity?” asks Del Worley, Holy Cross CEO. “Because it actually saves Holy Cross money. We expect the savings from this past year’s efforts to save Holy Cross $1.8 million in power costs over the next five years. Energy conservation means we don’t need to invest in costly new power plants, and it reduces the peak demand charges we pay our supplier. Conservation is the most cost-effective investment we can make.”

$1.12 Million in Rebates Offset Project Costs

In 2014, Holy Cross paid out more than $1.1 million in rebates to offset a portion of its customers’ investments in energy savings. Funding for the rebates comes from a two percent We Care surcharge added to electric bills. Holy Cross staff visited more than 300 homes to provide free home energy assessments and helped pay for 60 Energy Smart Colorado home assessments. A total of 592 households made energy upgrades in 2014.

“Adding LED lights and recycling old, working refrigerators were by far the most popular upgrades,” says Wiener. “People also replaced leaky windows, switched to programmable thermostats, swapped out their old holiday lights for LED strings and installed heat tape timers.”

Holy Cross partners with the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments (CCOG), which offers a free home-weatherization program to income-qualified households. In 2014, the Northwest CCOG crew made free upgrades for 22 households, using a $46,000 contribution from Holy Cross.

For businesses and multi-family housing properties, Holy Cross partnered with three local energy organizations – CLEER, CORE and Walking Mountains Science Center – to provide free building walk-throughs and energy coaching. Because businesses and lodging use so much more electricity than homes, 2014 projects at 177 businesses and 51 multi-family properties delivered 93 percent of the total electric savings.

LED lighting was the project of choice, delivering the added benefit of reduced maintenance. “LED lighting is the hot ticket for businesses, lodges and condos,” says Wiener. “These projects deliver immediate energy savings and rapid payback. We expect to see a lot more lighting upgrades this year as people see the excellence of these new LED fixtures and bulbs.”

In 2015, more rebate funding is available to help Holy Cross customers invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Call the Holy Cross Energy Advisor at 970.947.5473 or visit HolyCross.com and click on “Rebates” to learn more.