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Cutting energy, cost

THUNDER BAY -- Rob Coffey says energy conservation is saving his furniture company big dollars.
Badanai Motors' Pat Spina, accepts a Retrofit Excellence in Energy Efficiency Award from Thunder Bay Hydro on Wednesday (Leith Dunick,

THUNDER BAY -- Rob Coffey says energy conservation is saving his furniture company big dollars.

On Wednesday the owner of Dufresne Furniture was recognized, along with three other Thunder Bay companies, for changes that allowed them to drastically cut their energy use.

Coffey said he expects to cover the $32,000 cost of the retrofit at his store quickly.

“We looked at the number and the rebates offered by the Ontario Power Authority and it made sense for us,” Coffey said, after earning a 2014 Retrofit Excellence in Energy and Conservation Award, handed out by Thunder Bay Hydro at a luncheon meeting.

“We will actually pay for the project in less than a year.

Coffey said the major change made to his showroom was a change in lighting, switching from 75-watt bulbs to 15-watt LED lighting.

“It’s a huge savings per head,” he said, adding they swapped out about 800 lights.

“One of the most significant costs of operating a showroom is lighting. You have to have the right lighting. We had a lot of lighting in our store and a huge electrical bill on top of that.”

There was an added bonus, he said.

“On top of that, with the old 75-watt lights, they generated a lot of heat. So in the summertime, the air conditioner was operating all the time,” he said.

Ben Hettrick, general manager at Smith’s RV Centre, said the program was a natural fit, and when it was introduced, he saw it made a lot of sense.

“Basically what we had to do was get rid of our non-energy efficient lighting and upgrade to a T5 lighting. In our showroom we want to recreate the camping experience, so you try to create that natural light,” Hettrick said.

“So we went all the way to the T5s, which is a really high-efficient light bulb and a very natural light. It was able to really brighten up the showroom, clean things up and just help increase sales as well.”

Hettrick figured the light change alone will save him 35 per cent on his energy bills going forward.
That’s just what the program was designed to do, said Bill Willis, supervisor of conservation and energy services at Thunder Bay Hydro.

And it appears to be working.

“Since 2007 the Retrofit program started and we’ve saved about 8.6 million kilowatt hours. That equates to enough power to supply to about 900 homes,” Willis said.

What they’re looking for are companies with older, inefficient electrical products.

“We have programs that will get them better, efficient (ways) in their businesses,” he said.

Also honoured on Wednesday were Badanai Motors, which expects to save about 44,000 kilowatts of electricity each year with a change in lighting systems, and LMI Thunder Bay, which has cut $25,000 from its energy bill, also through more energy efficient lighting.

The program has recruited the Airlane Hotel and Conference Centre, Dominion Motors and Naxos Grille & Bar to join the program in 2014.





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