If there is one thing you would be a fool to pass up as you are upgrading your hotel—making it more energy and water efficient—it is free money. Getting it could be as easy as working with your local utility or the company they have contracted with to run their programs. The hub online for state incentives can be found at https://www.dsireusa.org/. I moused over the U.S. map and California has the most programs with 187. That did not surprise me. I checked my home state of Florida, and it has 105. In the city of Tampa where I live, Tampa Electric offers a free energy audit and will pay up to 50 percent of the cost of smart thermostats up to $4,500. Hey, every bit helps.
To what degree is your company or property participating in/benefiting from utility incentives? I would love to know. What I have discovered over the years is that somebody on your team needs to be a bloodhound chasing these programs down. (Reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
I have written about rebates/incentives numerous times for Green Lodging News, but the subject popped up again in the past few weeks when I heard from Dave Campbell, Regional Director of Engineering for Sonesta International Hotels Corp. He wanted to fill me in on how Sonesta is taking advantage of utility incentives available from Southern California Edison (SCE) through Willdan Energy Solutions’ Commercial Energy Efficiency Program.
Dave told me that about a half-dozen Sonesta hotels in Southern California have benefited from the SCE programs and have installed new A.O. Smith Corp. CHP-120 heat pump water heaters. Rebates of up to $18,000 per water heater are available—enough to cover the cost of each heater. Participating in that program sounds like a no brainer to me, especially with California pushing businesses to electrify. (See flyer for more information on the water heater rebate program.)
Out with the Inefficient, in with the Efficient
Dave says the CHP-120 heat pump water heaters are replacing boilers that were old and inefficient. The A.O. Smith heat pump takes heat from the outside air and puts it into the water. The byproduct is cool air—a benefit Campbell says he has been able to take advantage of in at least one hotel in the laundry room. “I have been able to turn down the AC in the laundry room,” he says.
At one property, 14 gas-fired water heaters were replaced. Any maintenance related to natural gas is eliminated.
“[The rebate program] is helpful for some of the smaller hotels that don’t have the labor available,” Dave told me.
Michelle Villa, Outreach Manager at Willdan Energy Solutions, says water heaters are the low-hanging fruit of electrification, adding that her company’s Rapid Rebates also cover items for areas including lighting, refrigeration, HVAC, kitchen hood ventilation, and more.
Always on the Lookout for Incentives
Dave says he has worked with Willdan Energy Solutions, San Diego Gas & Electric and other programs to switch out aging fixtures and equipment—in each case receiving an incentive to do so. In some cases, on-demand water heaters were installed.
According to Willdan Energy Solutions, there are numerous upsides to upgrading to more energy-efficient equipment.
“By reducing energy consumption in your facilities, you’re also reducing your cost—not to mention cutting your overall CO2 emissions,” the company says. “Energy efficiency upgrades don’t just lower energy consumption and reduce emissions. You also get the latest, most up-to-date technology—which means better reliability, less maintenance, and smoother operations.”
Utilizing utility rebates/incentives is simply smart business.
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