The Moab Valley Inn expects to save tens of thousands of dollars in energy costs by participating in Rocky Mountain Power’s “wattsmart” business program, and the utility says that other businesses could do the same.

Speaking at a Nov. 18 Moab Chamber of Commerce luncheon, Rocky Mountain Power representatives offered a broad overview of wattsmart program tips and incentives that saved the inn $11,500 in one year alone.

According to Rocky Mountain Power Customer and Community Manager Deb Dull, the incentives cover everything from lighting, heating and cooling, to insulation, appliances and food service equipment.

“Our wattsmart business program offers technical expertise and cash incentives for improving the energy efficiency of individual businesses,” Dull said. “Businesses today know that it’s good to be energy efficient – to be wattsmart. It helps save money for a business, while being mindful of the environment.”

Dave Seibert, a longtime Moab Valley Inn employee who works in maintenance, said the first step in the wattsmart process was to work with Rocky Mountain Power on an energy efficiency plan.

A Rocky Mountain Power wattsmart specialist came to the hotel, identified ways for it to reduce its energy consumption and estimated how much the hotel could save on its electric bills. The specialist also advised hotel managers on the incentives available through Rocky Mountain Power that would help the Moab Valley Inn pay for the new equipment. Once it had the benefit of that technical advice, the hotel decided to implement a number of changes during the seasonal slow-down.

In the year following the hotel’s implementation of the efficiency measures, its energy costs dropped by almost 20 percent, according to Seibert.

He pointed out that with the energy cost savings plus the incentives, Moab Valley Inn will also recoup the cost of switching to the new equipment 16 months after its installation. Without the incentives, it would have taken more than two years to recover that money. The inn will continue save more than $11,000 annually in reduced energy costs.

“I thank Rocky Mountain Power,” Seibert said. “You are truly making a difference.”

Many of the changes that the Moab Valley Inn made involved switching from halogen to LED lights, which use “light emitting diodes” to produce very efficient light, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Dave Backen, a Rocky Mountain Power consultant who is working to further implement the wattsmart program, touted LEDs as the future of lighting.

“If you don’t have LED yet, you probably will at some point, because you won’t be able to afford not to,” Backen said.

He estimated that by 2020, 70 percent of all lighting will be LED, and added that most of the big box retail stores have already switched over. Next year, LED street lights will become available through Rocky Mountain Power, according to the company.

While LED lights have become significantly less expensive in recent years, they still require a greater upfront investment than other types of bulbs. However, they last many times longer than either compact fluorescent, halogen, or incandescent bulbs, and they use less electricity, so they save money over time, according to the EPA’s Energy Star Program.

LEDs are also favored by some because they reduce light pollution. They are a “directional” light source, meaning they emit light in a specific direction, unlike other types of bulbs which emit light in all directions. LEDs also do not carry the waste management issues of compact fluorescent bulbs, which contain mercury.

J.J. Wang was one of the local business owners who attended the Chamber of Commerce presentation. He is the owner of Quint Star Management Inc., which manages five hotels in the Moab area.

“I appreciate that Rocky Mountain Power is making the effort to educate us,” Wang said. “I would like to get some LED light bulbs and try them out. If I have a new building, I’d be interested in (energy efficiency) for the whole thing.”

Several others pointed to the broader advantages of saving energy: When customers use less energy, they said, less energy needs to be purchased on the market. With decreased demand for energy, the cost of energy drops.

Dull also pointed out, “Energy that isn’t being generated makes less of an impact on the environment. If new facilities are not being built, that’s a benefit to customers and the environment.”

And, Rocky Mountain Power also profits from utilization of their wattsmart program: Backen noted that it is more cost effective for the company to promote and incentivize energy efficiency than to build and maintain new power plants.

While the recent presentation at the Chamber of Commerce luncheon focused on the wattsmart business program, there is also a wattsmart residential program that offers rebates to homeowners who purchase high-efficiency appliances and equipment for their residences. Rebates offered include up to $100 on a refrigerator, and up to $1,000 on an evaporative cooler.

More information about the wattsmart business and residential programs is available on the company’s website, Homeowners can also call 800-942-0266 for details, while businesses can call 800-222-4335.

“If a customer looks at the website and feels they have a potential project, give us a call or send us an email,” Dull said. “There’s so much information out there. We don’t expect customers to feel like they have to be the experts – that’s what we’re here for.”

Rocky Mountain Power offers incentives to improve energy efficiency

“Businesses today know that it’s good to be energy efficient – to be wattsmart. It helps save money for a business, while being mindful of the environment.”