Madison, Wis. – For Karen Clay, the energy efficiency projects at her business last year were not only much-needed upgrades, but also research.
Clay knew the boiler at Swim West in Middleton was inefficient and did not work well, but she also knew she was no expert in boilers or energy efficiency; so, she made some calls.
“I knew that I was way out of my comfort zone,” Clay said. “I run a swim school really well. I don’t know a lot about energy.”
Those calls led to a collaboration between Karen and Energy Advisor Mark Lydon with FOCUS ON ENERGY®, as well as expertise from Focus on Energy Trade Ally contractors NAMI, PKK Lighting, and Edison Energy, LLC.
“And then a floodgate of knowledge just opened up. I was taking in so much. There was so much I didn’t know. And then the more questions (they) asked, the more you realize you have a lot more to learn.”
Karen installed three energy-efficient boilers and she recently installed LED exterior lighting fixtures and replaced 92 interior bulbs with LEDs.
Those upgrades earned her a $7,913.60 financial incentive through Focus on Energy’s Small Business Program to help offset the initial cost of the investments in energy efficiency – not to mention the estimated $60,000 she will save on future energy bills over the lifecycle of the lights and boilers.
"Through this work, my small company is on the path to lowering its utility bills by several thousand dollars annually, with a collective payback on my investments of less than three years,” Clay said.
Still, her energy efficiency journey isn’t done. Karen wrote the winning submission for a U.S. Swim School Association grant, which will fund upcoming research trips to Amsterdam and Germany.
“We picked Amsterdam because we did our research on where is the best pool in the world… They would have sent me anywhere, but we found out Amsterdam has the best in the world in terms of energy efficiency.”
Clay will present her findings at the Association’s annual conference in Milwaukee this September. She is also writing articles for the Association about what she has learned while working with Focus on Energy and others when upgrading her facility.
“The information I have gathered will be very helpful in spreading the work [Focus on Energy does] well beyond Wisconsin. Thank you!"
Swim West is a natural gas customer of MG&E and an electricity customer of Alliant Energy, two of the 107 Wisconsin utilities that fund the Focus on Energy program. Customers of those utilities are eligible for the energy expertise and financial incentives Focus on Energy offers.
A recent independent evaluation found every $1 invested in Focus on Energy programs creates more than $5 in benefits for Wisconsin, including economic benefits, reduced energy costs, and reduced pollution.
About Focus on Energy
Focus on Energy is Wisconsin utilities' statewide energy efficiency and renewable resource program funded by the state's investor-owned energy utilities and participating municipal and electric cooperative utilities. Focus on Energy works with eligible Wisconsin residents and businesses to install cost-effective energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Focus on Energy information, resources and financial incentives help to implement projects that otherwise would not be completed. Its efforts help Wisconsin residents and businesses manage rising energy costs, promote in-state economic development, protect our environment and control Wisconsin's growing demand for electricity and natural gas. For more information call 800.762.7077 or visit focusonenergy.com.