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A Marriage Of Like Minds

“I’ve been crowing to everybody that there’s money on the table,” said Sally Like of Marcile’s Fashions & Bridal in Richmond, Michigan. “It doesn’t make sense to leave it there.”

Ms. Like is right. And Ralph H. Gould of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church — way on the other side of Michigan in Newaygo — agrees. The money they’re talking about is rebate cash available through the Energy Optimization Incentive Program of DTE Energy. The two towns they call home are 218 miles apart, so Ms. Like’s brides probably won’t be married in Mr. Gould’s church, but they share a common interest in saving energy and money.

If word of the savings possible through DTE Energy incentive plans has reached the far rural corners of mid-Michigan, it’s a wonder so many businesses in the state have yet to take advantage of them.

While cash incentives sound good on paper, you may be asking how the program works in practice. Well, Ms. Like and Mr. Gould are here to tell you how it came together for them.

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church In Newaygo

The main wing of this beautiful, historic church was built in 1883. A smaller addition was added 50 years ago. The church is a Newaygo landmark, and the community treasures it. But until recently, parishioners shivered in the colder months and strained to hear the sermon, thanks to the church’s antiquated, noisy and inefficient heating system — a system that utilized two furnaces, one perilously located under the floor of the main building.

Mr. Gould, whose vestry duties include managing the financial business of the church, recognized that updating could yield substantial savings while making the church a nicer place to worship, so he contacted Paulsen Heating & Cooling in Fremont, Michigan to see what could be done. Fortunately, he didn’t stop there. He also called DTE Energy after learning about the Energy Optimization Incentive Program.

Paulsen recommended a system utilizing a 93 percent efficient natural gas hot water furnace to heat the newer wing. That same unit would provide hot water for a heat exchanger and forced air system in the main wing, eliminating the heating plant below the floor. Because not all areas of the church are in use at the same time, three, seven-day programmable thermostats were installed to control temperature efficiently.

DTE Energy engineers assisted Mr. Gould in the decision-making process and helped him determine where incentives might apply. Ultimately, DTE Energy provided over $700 in financing.

The result: Approximately $1,000 in annual energy savings and no shivering in the pews. Now, when a bride and groom say, “I do,” everyone present can hear them loud and clear.

Marcile’s Fashions & Bridal in Richmond

Sally Like’s business is all about looking good, so lighting is critical. For many years she got by with 20 fluorescent fixtures fitted with power-hungry eight-foot T12 bulbs and magnetic ballasts. Then she read that the T12 bulbs would soon be discontinued and knew it was time to upgrade to more efficient lighting.

At about the same time, she received a fortuitous e-mail from DTE Energy describing an incentive plan that would help her upgrade the lighting in her store. Soon, compact low-wattage fixtures with T5 bulbs and electronic ballasts were installed. With a number of color temperature options available,  Ms. Like chose “warm” color light bulbs, as she feels her merchandise shows better in that kind of flattering light.

“Anyone out there have a need for some 8-foot T12 bulbs? I have a stack of them that I’ll sell real cheap,” said Ms. Like.

DTE Energy incentives covered about 25 percent of the cost. Since the job was completed only six weeks ago, Ms. Like doesn’t know what her savings will be, but based on what she read on the DTE Energy website, she estimates a payback period of less than three years. After that, the savings will go right to the bottom line.

“I sincerely appreciate the incentive helping to make upgrades more affordable,” said Ms. Like. “The application process went smoothly and my investment costs were moderate. Thank you, DTE!”

The 4-foot T5 fixtures are much smaller than the old 8-foot T 12 units, yet they provide better light. Ms. Like is glowing and is now looking into replacing the incandescent spotlights in her show windows with LED lighting.

She will, of course, apply for DTE Energy incentive cash. Why wouldn’t she? Why wouldn’t you?

 

This article was originally published in DTE Energy’s magazine EnergySmarts.

For more tips and inspiration for small business owners,
visit CBS Small Business Pulse Detroit.

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