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Middlebury Inn Uses Efficiency for Comfort

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Photo credit: Efficiency Vermont

Source: Efficiency Vermont (EVT)

A country inn uses energy efficiency to keep guests comfortable, costs down

When Dan and Michelle Brown bought the Swift House Inn 11 years ago, the building, circa 1880, presented its share of challenges. It was expensive to heat and cool, and the Browns knew that in order to afford the level of service they planned to provide, they needed to become more energy efficient. Since then, they’ve made a number of energy-saving upgrades, and their recent installation of a guest room energy management system is saving them more than $800, every year.

Unoccupied guest rooms are costly to heat and cool

Once guests check in, they expect to have control of their room’s temperature, yet spend most of their time outside. “Our guests are active,” says Dan. “In the winter, they spend their days skiing. In the summer, they’re hiking or sightseeing.”

Until recently, the in-room thermostat remained constant—the system working continuously to keep empty rooms warm in the winter and cool in the summer. That gets expensive.

Energy management system balances guest comfort with cost savings

The solution was a guest room energy management system: a wireless control network that automatically adjusts temperature based on occupancy. While guests control the thermostat while in the room, empty rooms return to a pre-programmed temperature to save energy. The system adjusts back to the last-set temperature upon the guest’s return, and most people never even notice the difference.

Dan worked with Efficiency Vermont to evaluate the system he wanted before investing, to get a solid understanding of how much energy and money he would actually save. Efficiency Vermont’s savings projections take into account building specifics, heating systems, and even local weather patterns.

Saving money on energy means more capital for improvements

The system was installed in 2014, and the savings are already being put to good use. Updates to the rooms—including new furnishings, linens, and bathroom renovations—are ongoing, as are improvements to the building exterior and grounds. Says Dan, “Our guests enjoy a sense of history, but they don’t actually want to feel like they’re in the 1800s.”

Guests also appreciate the Inn’s attention to sustainability. Ahead of the curve in terms of energy stewardship, the Swift House has upgraded to energy-efficient heating and cooling, employs solar power, and has a plug-in station for guests to refuel electric cars. “More and more, we’re seeing that our travelers are savvy about energy use,” says Dan. “They understand both the conservation aspect and the cost savings, and they appreciate our approach.”

For more information, please contact Efficiency Vermont at (888-921-5990)