Energy Adviser: Businesses can save via energy efficiency

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For businesses looking to boost the bottom line, prioritizing energy efficiency can make a big difference. Small changes add up over time, and larger investments in system upgrades, equipment replacement or building controls can have an immediate and significant impact on monthly energy costs.

“Many small and midsized businesses can reduce some operating costs immediately by improving their energy management,” said Bill Hibbs, commercial programs manager for Clark Public Utilities. “Coupled with utility incentives, many upgrades are cost-effective and pay back quickly.”

For businesses, energy efficiency remains an easy way to slash energy use by at least 2 percent and often up to 10, according to Energy Star. And, that savings goes straight to the bottom line.

“Opportunities to reduce energy use in commercial buildings can vary based on the size and type of business, but lighting and HVAC systems are usually the first place we look to find savings,” said Hibbs. “Doing a site visit and walk-through of the space can help businesses prioritize upgrades, and we’re happy to do that for customers.”

Along with the popular commercial and industrial lighting incentive program, the utility has six different commercial heating incentive programs. Three are related to heat pumps and include new installations, upgrades from a previously installed heat pump and ductless heat pumps.

“For about a year, we’ve been offering prescriptive HVAC incentives to commercial accounts,” Hibbs said. “Our incentive programs reduce the upfront costs of efficiency upgrades and also ensure that the measures are installed correctly and performing optimally.”

For prescriptive HVAC incentives, businesses must meet straightforward building, heating and tonnage requirements during the submission process.

To qualify for retrofits of existing heat pumps, qualifying businesses can receive an incentive of $250 a ton for the new unit, up to 50 percent of the project’s total cost.

There are fewer preconditions for new heat pump installations in old buildings. The incentives relate to the capacity of the unit. For units less than 6 tons, the incentive is $1,000 per heat pump installed, up to 50 percent of the total cost of the project. Units over 6 tons are eligible for $200 a ton, again at up to 50 percent of the project cost.

For ductless heat pump changeovers, an incentive of $750 a ton or up to 50 percent of the total project’s cost is available for installations that qualify.

Advanced rooftop-controls incentives apply to both gas and electrical retrofits. Preconditions include a rooftop unit of at least 5 tons, a constant speed fan, and a unitary system.

To acquire the incentive, the variable refrigeration flow systems must be a retrofit. The 100,000-square-foot or smaller building must be occupied for one year or long enough to gather a year’s worth of heating data. In addition, zonal, forced air, or electric-resistance heat needs to have been the primary heating source. (Buildings heated by air-source heat pumps or gas are not currently eligible.) Retrofits qualifying for VRF installations may receive a rebate of $800 a ton, up to 50 percent of total project cost.

A connected thermostat incentive applies to buildings with either gas and electric heating with a traditional, not web enabled, thermostat control. A web-enabled thermostat replacement can get up to a $200 incentive for each unit, or 50 percent of the cost of the installation.

“For many businesses, our new prescriptive HVAC incentives can help achieve substantial energy savings while offsetting some of the upfront costs of a project,” said Hibbs. “Customers often note that comfort is increased as well. And new lighting can improve visibility and safety in addition to saving money.”

To contact your assigned key accounts manager, commercial customers can call 360-992-3000 any time.


Energy Adviser is written by Clark Public Utilities. Send questions to ecod@clarkpud.com or to Energy Adviser, c/o Clark Public Utilities, P.O. Box 8900, Vancouver, WA 98688.