Bob Ward
Special to the Citizen Telegram
Rifle, Colorado CO

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April 18, 2012
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Church sees new kind of light with energy upgrades

Members of Rifle's Seventh Day Adventist Church are literally seeing a new kind of light after upgrading their light fixtures with modern, energy-efficient technology.

Seeking to save money on their utility bills, church board members contacted Garfield Clean Energy and signed up for the Garfield Clean Energy Challenge.

As a participant in that program, they received energy coaching services, which helped them get lined up with a free lighting audit from Franklin Energy, the company that manages Xcel Energy's Small Business Lighting program.

The church also took advantage of a low-cost full-building audit that Xcel Energy provides its customers. The two reports indicated the church could significantly reduce its power consumption by turning down their programmable thermostats even more and installing more efficient lighting.

Unfortunately, the thermostat idea was a nonstarter, said Elder Ron Cloninger.

"We would turn down the temperature if it weren't for the piano," he explained. "Below 60, it goes out of tune."

That left lighting as the preferred target. And the church took the advice to heart, spending $5,404 on a building-wide overhaul.

In the sanctuary, energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs replaced the old incandescent lights. In the building's hallways, classrooms and restrooms, energy-saving T-8 electronic ballast lights replaced the old, power-hungry T-12 magnetic ballast lights.

Motion sensors in the restrooms now ensure that the lights come on only when needed. The church also upgraded its exit signs to LED models.

Accurate Electric of Rifle did the work in August 2011 and, following the advice of Energy Coach Erica Sparhawk of Clean Energy Economy for the Region (CLEER), the church sought rebates to offset the installation costs.

When all was said and done, Garfield Clean Energy provided $2,749 and Xcel Energy, the church's electric utility, kicked in $1,574 toward the lighting project, leaving the church's out-of-pocket costs at $1,081.

"The rebates available make energy efficiency projects very attractive," said Sparhawk.

"Even without all the rebates, the savings keep these projects attractive," she said.

In the six months since the work was performed, the church has used 4,360 kilowatt-hours less electricity than it did in the same period the year before. In dollars and cents, that will come to about $870 in annual savings.

But the benefits don't end there. Church members who attend board meetings or teach classes in the building's meeting rooms report the new lights are easier on the eyes and ears than the old, flickering fluorescents.

"When we had board meetings, you'd have to sit there for three hours under those buzzing lights," recalled Cloninger's wife, Elaine. "Everybody's happy with these new ones."

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The Post Independent Updated Apr 18, 2012 05:33PM Published Apr 18, 2012 05:31PM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.