Energy efficiency improvements reduced this store’s energy costs by $350 per month while rendering it bright and appealing.

As you walk through the ornate door of Hills Fine Wine & Spirits in Bloomfield Hills, your eyes are drawn to a glass display case showcasing sparkling crystal decanters of fine cognac and scotch. Recognized by Hour Detroit magazine as the region’s best wine shop in 2015, 2016 and best fine spirits shop in 2017, the store offers thousands of choices stacked floor to ceiling on attractive wood shelving. But a pleasing ambiance and vast beverage selection aren’t the only points of pride for the store’s owners. Following two energy efficiency improvement projects, they can now tout its standing as an environmentally sound enterprise as well.

Jake, Sonny and Neil Mio purchased the building in 2007. “We had years of business experience, so we knew energy efficiency was a sure way to reduce costs, and we remodeled with that in mind,” said Jake Mio.

In 2008, the Mios greeted their first customers. Today, the store offers everything from craft beer and fine wine to $8,000 crystal decanters of Louis XIII cognac.

The Business Energy Consultation
In 2015, a DTE energy expert stopped by the store and saw rows of energy-wasting T12 fluorescent lamps and outdated refrigerator cases with inefficient lighting. He gave Jake Mio his business card and said he could help him save dollars on energy while making the store more appealing. A DTE Business Energy Consultation was scheduled, and within days an energy expert was at the store.

The energy expert completed a consultation, which included analysis of the store’s electrical equipment. He subsequently provided a report recommending replacement of the overhead fluorescent lights and refrigerator case lighting with LEDs and the installation of ECM motors in the cases.

“I had seen LED lighting in other stores and knew it provided better light than our fluorescents,” said Jake Mio. “More importantly, the buzz and heat from the fluorescents gave me headaches, so I was sold on the lighting.” A DTE Designated Trade Ally contractor told the Mios that DTE was offering more than $1,300 in incentives to help cover the project’s cost. That clinched the deal.

The energy efficiency journey, step one
The Mios had LED lighting installed in both the store’s showroom and basement storage area, using half as many lamps as were needed with fluorescents. “We were pleased with the result,” said Jake Mio. “The store was brighter, and our products were better displayed. Additionally, our regular customers noticed the difference and were pleased.”

Next, ECM motors were installed in the refrigerator cases. ECMs incorporate a microprocessor that determines when the motor’s speed can be reduced without affecting torque and airflow. When not running at full speed, they use less energy than standard motors. All told, the Mios saved a considerable amount of money on their electric bill and were pleased to know their carbon footprint was reduced.

The energy efficiency journey, repeat
The DTE energy expert visited again a couple of years later and suggested that replacing recessed lamps with LEDs would result in additional savings and even better lighting. He also recommended installing anti-sweat controls in the refrigerator cases.

These devices control fan speed, preventing fogging of the glass and reducing energy usage. Again, incentive cash was available and the Mios said, “Do it.”

The results
“After two rounds of energy efficiency improvements, our electric bills were reduced by about $350 a month. Our investment was paid back in approximately six months, thanks to energy savings and incentive cash,” said Jake Mio.

In total, the Mios received more than $2,200 in incentive cash and are using approximately 47,000 kWh less electricity annually. That’s enough to run 72, 24-cubic-foot refrigerators for a full year – substantial savings and an example of why a multi-step energy efficiency journey is a great way to go.

The Mios are now ardent fans of energy efficiency improvement and are getting ready for a third step – replacement of exterior wall pack lighting with LED units. Saving money and protecting the environment never gets old. Just ask the Mios.

Content Cool saving ideas
Any business that relies heavily on refrigeration can reduce energy usage significantly and save dollars by undertaking modest energy efficiency improvement projects. Here are three:

  1. Upgrade refrigerated display case lighting to LEDs: 40 percent savings
  2. Install ECM motors in all refrigerators: 30 percent savings or more
  3. Install anti-sweat controls: 45 to 90 percent savings

Following two rounds of energy efficiency improvements, Hills Fine Wine & Spirits is one of the area’s most energy efficient businesses.  In total, the Mios received more than $2,200 in incentive cash and are using approximately 47,000 kWh less electricity annually.  “After the two rounds of energy efficiency improvements, our electric bills were reduced by about $350 a month.”

Jake Mio, co-owner, Hills Fine Wine & Spirits “Our investment was paid back in approximately six months, thanks to the energy savings and incentive cash.”

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