The Sisters Habitat for Humanity Thrift Store raises funds to provide affordable and energy efficient housing to local families in need. The recent purchase of a larger retail location led to a lighting upgrade expected to help the nonprofit save energy, improve the customer experience, and reduce operating costs. With cash incentives provided by Central Electric Cooperative (CEC), Sisters Habitat for Humanity estimates the lighting upgrade will save nearly $4,000 in annual utility costs. Incentives provided by CEC covered 70% of the project’s total installation cost.
Since 1991, Sisters Habitat for Humanity, located in Central Oregon, has sold homes to 68 local families. They also started a home repair program in 2013 and have completed eight repairs to date ranging from new roofs, ADA remodels and exterior paint. Recently, the nonprofit purchased the former Sisters Drug Building to expand its retail space and increase program revenue.
When volunteer and board member Bob Buchholz first walked into the new location, he immediately saw dozens of outdated lamps through the 12,000 square foot space. The existing lighting was a combination of incandescent and fluorescent fixtures with multiple different temperatures, resulting in a lack of lighting uniformity throughout the space.
“When I looked up at over 400 fluorescent tubes, the electric meter went off in my head,” said Buchholz. “Energy efficiency is important to the nonprofit and to our community, so I began to research energy and cost saving solutions.”
CEC’s lighting program referred him to Trade Ally Network NW Field Specialist Kandis Bray, who helped him research solutions and navigate the program.
Sisters Habitat upgraded the lighting to TLED retrofit lamps, LED replacement lamps for their recessed can fixtures and decorative fixtures, and LED exterior wallpacks and flood fixtures. Materials were purchased through Trade Ally Rick McKeone of Eoff Electric. A volunteer work party completed 90 percent of the installation work, replacing nearly 400 fluorescent tubes in less than four hours. In addition to upgrading lamps, Sisters Habitat was able to decommission other lighting they didn’t need.
“Volunteers noticed right away that the quality of light is much better with the LEDs than with the fluorescent tubes,” he continued. “And the incentives and energy savings make a difference to a nonprofit like ours. Income from the store goes to support housing. By lowering our costs, we can reallocate money saved from our utility bills to build more affordable housing in our community.”