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Efficiency Maine Introduces Free Virtual Consultations to Help Businesses Considering Energy-Efficiency Projects

Commercial rebate recipients share building improvement success stories

Efficiency Maine has been providing incentives to businesses and institutions around the state to upgrade their building systems, and recently began offering free virtual consultations for businesses interested in learning more about how to get started on an energy-efficiency project.

“There’s never been a better time to switch from outdated oil and propane heating systems to heat pumps, as well as upgrade lighting systems to LEDs,” says Rick Meinking, senior program manager for commercial initiatives at Efficiency Maine. “To help businesses get started, we’re excited to offer customers a no cost, no obligation virtual consultation with a member of the Efficiency Maine team. We hope that these discussions will help customers define the solutions that will reduce their business’s energy use and costs.”

Commercial and industrial businesses interested in assessing their needs before starting a project can sign up for a virtual consultation on the Efficiency Maine website. Businesses ready to get started with a project can call 866-376-2463 or send an email to CIP@efficiencymaine.com.

Efficiency Maine offers a variety of incentives for businesses of all sizes. Many are already experiencing the money-saving benefits of updated systems.

Fryeburg Academy installed two heat-pump based variable refrigerant flow (VRF) systems with heat recovery in their campus student union and is now saving more than $900 a year.

“It’s been a wonderful addition to campus,” said Dave Powers, facility manager at Fryeburg Academy. “It’s comfortable in the winter. Now in the summer, for the people who work year-round, they have an air-conditioned space. During this winter’s cold snaps, the heat worked great. Prior to this project, I would’ve had all kinds of issues keeping up with the heat during this last cold spell.

“Every penny that we save on utility expenses, we can put into educating the students,” said Powers. “It’s really great to be able to put the money into programming and not into utilities.”

Mastway Development, the developer of the mixed-use campus Stevens Commons located in Hallowell, also upgraded to energy-efficient technology with the help of Efficiency Maine. Mastway Development installed three VRF systems in the newly constructed Cleveland Hall, a student residence for the University of Maine at Augusta located in Stevens Commons.

“The new VRF systems have been a game changer for us,” said Matt Morrill, chief executive officer of Mastway Development, which is currently working on the revitalization of Stevens Commons. “Switching from inefficient oil-fired steam systems to an all-in-one product that provides both heating and cooling makes a world of difference in comfort and savings. That, coupled with the Efficiency Maine rebates, have allowed us to make the numbers work on redevelopment projects that otherwise would not have been feasible. The team at Efficiency Maine was very accommodating and helped us gather early estimates that resulted in the project being completed on time and on budget.”

Some of Maine’s smaller businesses also are benefiting from Efficiency Maine’s incentives. For instance, Wheelers Insurance in South Paris upgraded their heating system from an oil boiler to two high-efficiency heat pumps, saving approximately $200 a year.

“We have noticed that it is more cost efficient, the rooms are more comfortable, and we’re doing our part to help the environment,” said Leanna Bowie, marketing manager of Wheelers Insurance. “The process of working with Efficiency Maine was super smooth. It was a matter of filling out an application and arranging for the work to be complete.”

“Overall, the experience was convenient and it added value to our business,” added Wheelers Insurance Chief Executive Officer Michael Newsom.

Humble Comfort Food and Spirits in Brewer worked with Efficiency Maine to upgrade the restaurant’s heating, cooling, and lighting. Humble installed two heat pumps that both heat and cool, and also upgraded from fluorescent lighting to LEDs. With the upgrades, the business has reduced energy costs by about $200 a year.

“The restaurant is much brighter and warmer since the new lighting was installed,” said restaurant owner, Meghan Black. “I remember the first day I walked past the heat pump and it blew warm air in my face. It was the best feeling in the world.

“I have definitely seen a decrease in my electricity bill since the new lights went in,” Black continued. “It was a hard year at the restaurant, and the lights and the heat pump made me excited to get back to work.”

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