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Pagosa Springs News Summaries
Saturday, April 19, 2014
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Energy Audits Available for Business Owners
Elizabeth Salkind | 4/27/12
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In recognition of Earth Day, WeatherCo, a social enterprise division of Housing Solutions, performed level one commercial energy audits last week on two local businesses, the Durango Chamber of Commerce and the Spaaah Shop and Day Spa. Commercial energy audits are designed to provide businesses a guide to maximizing building performance, save energy and increase net operating income. Audits provide an analysis of energy saving projects and an analysis of cost payback, with many projects that are either no cost or low cost. 
Commercial buildings are major energy consumers, representing 18 percent of the total energy used in the United States. Marcy McKeon, Weatherization Program Manager, evaluated the Chamber and the Spaaah Shop and Day Spa and prepared an energy assessment report for each business. She explains that, “it is important to take an integrated approach to evaluating and improving energy performance, as each stage of upgrades includes changes that will affect the upgrades performed in subsequent stages.” 

The first step is to hire an energy auditor to assess the physical building, evaluating its existing fuel consumption and identifying specific opportunities for improvement.  The second stage is to perform recommended lighting upgrades, as lighting systems significantly impact other building systems and account for an average of 35 percent of the electricity used in commercial buildings.  The third stage is to reduce supplemental loads, only using the energy that is necessary.  For example, employees can do their part to minimize loads by turning off equipment at night and water heaters can be adjusted to provide significant cost savings. The next step is improve the efficiency of the existing heating and cooling equipment including proper sizing of equipment, adjusting ventilation to conform with code requirements and occupant needs, implementing energy-saving controls, taking advantage of free cooling where possible and optimizing the efficiency of distribution system components.

Once existing equipment is fine-tuned, long-term plans to replace heating and cooling equipment with smaller, more energy efficient devices can be evaluated. 
After the inspection, McKeon met with each business and reviewed the audit results.  Jack Llewellyn, Executive Director of the Durango Chamber of Commerce is currently evaluating the next step in the process.

"I am pleased to partner with Housing Solutions, conducting an energy audit set the benchmark for our building, allowing us to budget the needed repairs and improvements. Overall, I was impressed with the report and their professionalism.  There were suggestions ranging from low cost to high cost, giving us budgetary analysis for the improvements..."

Connie Imig, owner of the Spaaah Shop and Day Spa, reiterated Llewellyn’s positive experience; "Housing Solutions sent out knowledgeable and efficient staff to audit our building space and it's energy usage.  The report offers good solutions from simple to more complex.  This information will be added to our business planning process so we can be proud of our conservation in the future.....and save some money, too!"

Over the last thirty years, Housing Solutions has performed energy efficiency upgrades on 3000 plus buildings throughout the region with a highly trained building science crew. The organization is dedicated to providing these services to residents and business owners of all income levels in an effort to improve the quality and energy efficiency, and reduce our environmental impact.  Residents and business owners can contract with Housing Solutions’ social enterprise division, WeatherCo, to perform and energy audit and energy saving upgrades. 

Proceeds from WeatherCo support Housing Solutions programs, which address multiple housing issues in Southwest Colorado, ranging from homeless prevention to home ownership. Over the last thirty years, Housing Solutions has helped more than 15,000 individuals and families.

For more information, contact Marcy McKeon, Weatherization Program Manager, 970-749-5390,
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