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Energy efficiency experts of tomorrow scholarship

November 17, 2017 Kevin McDonough

The goal of Franklin Energy is to help utility customers manage their energy usage and meet energy goals. We make strides to reach this goal every day through implementing new programs and promoting energy-efficient behavior. But why stop there? For the fourth year in a row, we are going a step further in supporting future generations by offering our annual Energy Efficiency Experts of Tomorrow Scholarship.

As our industry grows and continues to thrive, the demand for energy experts is ever-increasing. We applaud those individuals pursuing a career in energy efficiency, as their desire to understand the technical and behavioral aspects of the industry is rare. We are proud to support the up-and-coming generation of efficiency experts, and we welcome the changes and new ideas they will bring to the industry.

The scholarship is open to all juniors and seniors at an accredited college or university who are enrolled in full-time study with a declared major of either environmental science or engineering. Applications are accepted from November 16, 2017 to February 1, 2018. Four $5,000 scholarships will be awarded to students selected by a non-biased third party panel. Future energy efficiency experts can find more details and apply for our scholarship below.

APPLY NOW

Sizing Up Small Business

November 03, 2017 Fred Dreher

How big is a small business? The short answer: it varies. The change can be quite dramatic from program to program; in fact, we saw the size limit vary from 60 kW to 400 kW in a recent review of ten electric programs.

Determining small business size can be difficult, and that doesn’t even take the issue of gas programs into account. They can have sizes anywhere from 3,000 to 6,000 therms per month. What does all this uncertainty mean? Can you tell a 100kW commercial business by looking at it? Probably not.

However, there’s a new tool for you that can provide guidance for trade allies, energy advisors, and utility personnel to better estimate small business size. It can be useful to determine eligibility in small business programs. It’s especially helpful for those energy efficiency programs where utility data is not always readily accessible.

Now, the key to determining small business eligibility is to determine the approximate square footage of a facility type and see how that falls within the allowable kW. This can be done several ways, but a simple conversion calculator is the easiest approach to determine eligibility. You can download your own programmed calculator tool by clicking the button at the bottom of this post.

Let’s see this idea in action. Let’s assume we have a program where an eligible small business is required to be below 100kW. Further, let’s say we’re targeting convenience stores as a potential market. After entering this information into the calculator, we see that the estimated maximum size of a convenience store to qualify is just over 9,500 ft2, or roughly a building that is 80’ x 120’.

Using that same approach for an office building instead, the result would be for a building with an area of roughly 18,000 ft2. The reason this building is a little larger is that the energy intensity of an office is less than you would anticipate seeing at a convenience store.

This tool allows for a quick and easy way to determine small business eligibility, saving both time and resources. It helps speed up the process, so small businesses can go from being prospects to clients with unmatched efficiency.

 Download the free tool now to begin sizing up your small businesses! 

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Why Attend Conferences?

October 26, 2017 Brody Vance

The key to being innovative is keeping up with the latest news and trends. In today’s world, this is often accomplished by reading news sources and skimming websites; however, this type of information tends to be limited. The real value comes from speaking with others in the industry and hearing their personal anecdotes and advice. Yes, I’m talking about attending conferences. Whether attending as a listener or a presenter, there are a multitude of benefits, including learning about new areas of expertise, hearing issues firsthand from clients, and networking with other industry professionals.

Over the past month, I had the opportunity to attend two fantastic energy efficiency conferences: the 11th annual Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange (#11thRMUEE) in Colorado and the SEEA Conference (#EETransform) in Georgia. If you’re wondering why Franklin Energy’s Multifamily Product Manager was attending these conferences, it was (surprisingly) not to talk about how much I love multifamily buildings. I had the opportunity to discuss energy savings in the ski industry, a topic fairly new to me.

The best part about presenting at a conference, particularly in a topic that isn’t your niche, is that you are able to learn so much while researching and preparing the presentation. Personally, my eyes were opened to tons of new opportunities as I discovered trends in the ski industry. For example, I learned about which snow-making guns are more energy-intensive, how ski resorts can shave significant costs when producing snow, and where ski resorts can save energy in the hospitality sector. That presentation is available online if you are interested in learning more. 

DOWNLOAD THE PRESENTATION

While conferences undoubtedly benefit the presenters, they also provide attendees with invaluable information and experiences. Working in a specific market, it is easy to experience tunnel vision and forget to look around and see what else is going on. Conferences bring diverse speakers from all areas, ready to share their knowledge with those who may not be familiar with a specific issue or industry. For example, a few of the hot topics I heard most at my latest conferences were rebuilding after natural disasters, providing utility data in a digital format, and overcoming hurdles with low-income programs.

While some of today’s main topics and concerns can be found online or in other news sources, one aspect of conferences simply cannot be replaced: getting to know utility clients and hearing their feedback directly. This allows us to learn the pain points utilities may be experiencing, how we can help, and what they think about our current operations. At the RMUEE, a utility roundtable was held where utilities could voice their thoughts, opinions, and concerns. This roundtable makes the RMUEE unique and is the highlight of the conference for me each year. Some of the topics we heard more than once were concerns about charging electric vehicles without a smart charger, discreet indoor growers overwhelming transformers, all-electric customers looking for air conditioning, and smart home technology data.

My role while at these conferences is not only to perform a skit after lunch and keep people awake, as we did at the SEEA Conference, but I often get a chance to chat up utility clients and vendors. Since a conference gathers industry professionals from across the board, it presents a huge networking opportunity. Between sessions and in downtime, attendees can form new relationships and take the time to catch up with existing contacts, which may present new opportunities in the future.

You definitely don’t get personal interaction like that when reading the news!

While conferences may take time away from daily activities and incur travel expenses, the opportunities they provide are worth it. Nothing can replace face-to-face interactions with colleagues and making new connections with industry experts. Each person has had different experiences in his or her career, and thus has unique insight and advice to share. Attending conferences will ensure you remain at the forefront of the industry.

Contact us for information on how we can use our industry expertise to benefit your program.

DOWNLOAD THE PRESENTATION 

Top 5 Reasons Your Program Design Needs to Include Networked Lighting Controls

October 16, 2017 Kyle Kichura

Networked Lighting Controls (NLC) are being called the second lighting revolution, transforming the luminary industry with internet-connected smart devices that have features and benefits we haven’t yet seen. They can be compared to smart thermostats, offering users more hands-on control and allowing them to leverage new savings. Incorporating NLC into your utility-program offerings is definitely a bright idea, and here are the top five reasons why:

  1. Major Program-Design Hurdles Tackled

A common objection to NLC is that there are still uncertainties about how to incorporate an offering. DesignLights Consortium’s™ NLC Program takes that challenge head-on with an out-of-the-box model: Utilities’ stakeholders are given a Qualified Products List, a savings-estimator tool, a proposed incentive structure, and technology training materials. They have recently published a report showing the NLC projects’ savings for future Technical Reference Manuals.

  1. Here’s What You Can Save on Energy

According to a General Services Administration Green Proving Ground study in 2015, you can save as much as 78% when paired with an LED upgrade. Yes, 78%. Mic drop, anyone?

  1. Data Is an Amazing Tool

We all know there is no better energy savings than being turned off altogether, and simple controls have always helped us take full advantage—but what if they could do more? What if that simple control could report that it’s turned off and then track energy trends? From that data, customers and utilities could better understand usage, know where those high-energy-usage spots are, change behavior, and maybe even create pay-for-performance incentive models.     

  1. Non-Energy Benefits (NEBs) Are Key

NEBs are what make NLC unique; in fact, projects are being sold based on the NEBs more than the energy savings. What if a lighting system could tell a customer more about a building’s space and assets and how they’re being used? For example, the system could track a healthcare facility and guide a nurse to the nearest ventilator. Or the system could set up an emergency-lighting testing schedule that can automatically be performed off-hours, saving on disruptions and maintenance labor. Or the system hones in on customers walking through a clothing store, helps them find shirts and pushes complementary merchandise such as ties or jewelry to their smart devices for a potential upsell. Is your program capturing these NEBs?

  1. Maximize the Investment

Customers are making the decision to upgrade to LEDs daily—but are they taking full advantage of the technology? Upgrading to LED could keep the equipment in place for a decade or longer, and the energy/information opportunity cost of not having NLC could be significant. Help them maximize their LED investment and encourage NLC.

From energy savings to data provision to non-energy benefits, networked lighting controls are being seen as an all-around win. So, what are you waiting for? Don’t be left in the dark when it comes to lighting; let Franklin Energy make your programs shine with NLC options.

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What You Missed At Our C&I Summit

October 02, 2017 Fred Dreher & Ed McGlynn

Our C&I Summit has drawn to a close, but it certainly left a lasting impression on those who attended. From the contacts made to national-level networking and expert tips shared from all corners of the industry, the C&I Summit was an excellent experience for all who joined. Weren’t able to make it? Here are some of the highlights.

We gathered speakers from across the industry to share their insights and pass along knowledge and viewpoints of the C&I market for today and the future. With speakers from organizations like ACEEE, ESource, GTI, and DoE, along with utilities like ComEd, Xcel Energy, DTE Energy and more, no stone was left unturned when it came to exploring all corners of the C&I market.

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With such a diverse group coming from all over the country, the networking opportunities were abundant. Attendees had a chance to meet with their peers and industry leaders, exchanging ideas and information.

And with a crowd like that, how could attendees not have a good time? Having fun is something we do well at Franklin Energy, and we wanted to share that with Summit attendees! Our reception (featuring our very own musical duo, FrEd) and dinner cruise were events to be topped.

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If you missed out on our C&I Summit, don’t worry. The presentations are available for you to dig into the information shared at the event.

 

DOWNLOAD THE PRESENTATIONS

 

Lights Out on the T12: How to Make the Switch

September 06, 2017 Joe Plummer

If we were a diner, T12s would be 86’d off the menu. But in our industry, it’s not as quick as a chalkboard erase or menu reprint. Our program teams need to get out there – they need to provide education and outreach to serve up savings and bring better efficiency to the table, business by business. The U.S. federal government has regulations putting an end to T12 fluorescent lighting – but they only apply to the import or manufacture of it.  

Regulation isn’t a stop button. There are many businesses across counties and cities operating without that knowledge or understanding of how much lighting efficiency can help them. It’s not something top of mind when you’re managing staff, budgets, local regulation, tax compliance, and services or products. Even more, T12s have been around since the 1930s; so, while they are outdated, they’re what many individuals are accustomed to using.  

But it’s a cost for companies not to make the switch. A typical 4-foot T12 lightbulb is 40W and will cost an average of $15 per year to operate. This could be replaced with a 15W LED tube, which would cost only $5.60 per year to operate and last 2.5 times longer. The actual cost to a business depends on the number of T12s they have and how many hours they use them, of course – but the bottom line is more Watts equals more dollars.

To get an understanding of just how many T12s are out there, my team visited 10 cities across Minnesota and assessed over 20 randomly-chosen businesses per city. We recorded a variety of information for each site including T12 fixture counts, lamp wattages and ballast types. The results may be surprising. To learn about them in more detail, visit the original webinar that outlines this study.

  • 56 of the 210 buildings had T12s, bringing their statewide estimate to 1 in 4 non-residential buildings.
  • The total power consumed by T12s in Minnesota is about 242 MW, representing 10% of all commercial and industrial lighting power.
  • Minnesota T12s consume about 881 GWh per year, equivalent to the energy consumed by about 77,000 U.S. homes.
  • T12s are most prevalent in small businesses.

After evaluating the results, we came up with some recommendations for making the switch from T12 to LED:

  • Use LED T8s, LED retrofit kits or LED luminaries. Design Lights Consortium (DLC)-listed LED products are preferred.
  • Extra precautions must be taken when replacing T12s with Type B (Direct Wire) LED T8s. Risks include electrical shock, incompatible socket types and accidental insertion of a fluorescent tube in a direct-wired fixture.
  • Installation costs can be a barrier for upgrading T12 fixtures. Energy efficiency programs can help overcome this barrier through bonus offers, bounty programs or bulk purchase programs.

It’s important to keep in mind that energy savings are only part of the equation. Upgrading to LEDs can improve the overall lighting quality in a space, offering a myriad of benefits including improved sales, safety and productivity. The bottom line is there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Each customer has different needs and budget when it comes to lighting. Thankfully, the variety of LED products on the market today make it easier than ever to upgrade to an advanced lighting solution. 

Are you a small business ready to make the switch? Contact us to find out what programs are offered in your area – you may be able to take advantage of rebates for your upgrades.

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Capture Energy Savings with the Updated Department of Energy Commercial Refrigeration Standards

August 16, 2017 Sarah Speck

Have you heard the saying “change is the only constant?” That rings true on many fronts – even in the energy efficiency industry. With continuous improvements being made and new inventions coming along, it can be challenging to keep up. One of the latest changes seen is to the new energy efficiency standards for commercial refrigeration equipment, issued by the Department of Energy earlier this year.  What are these new standards, and how do they affect utility programs?

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The energy efficiency industry thrives on change; without it, there would be no growth. Higher standards for commercial refrigeration will require adaptations to incentives, which is definitely a change. Without adaptations, we risk losing incentive opportunities and diverse portfolios of energy efficiency opportunities for customers. Staying on top of these trends and responding rapidly to them places the emphasis on cutting-edge technology, which in turn spurs greater all-around energy efficiency.

Contact Franklin Energy to discuss how our experts can help implement these Commercial Refrigeration Standards in your energy efficiency programs.

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Online and On Your Customer's Terms

July 24, 2017 Greg Nettleton, BPI

The course of most customer journeys starts online, whether it’s researching spring plaid fashions on your laptop or hopping on your phone to order a latte at your neighborhood coffee shop. The point is, it’s about time optimization and ease of use. Everyone has places to go, people to see and things to do and somehow, we need to fit energy efficiency effortlessly into busy lives.

You may be thinking, “hey, we’re online, we’re covered.” Being mobile doesn’t promise a smooth experience, nor are all consumers tethered to desktop. Tools like home energy assessments require design, from how you attract customers (digital ads and landing pages) and how they opt in to each check point, or even how they enter each home feature en route to the end goal of seamlessly providing information and energy savings.

It takes the right solution to enhance the customer experience and expedite their journey from a hike with bumps and trip-ups to a short jaunt that keeps them merrily on their way.

Interested in customer engagement through online tools, like Home Energy Surveys? Check out our whitepaper. We go in-depth on the demand, challenges and tactics to meet customers online, while also making it easy.

 

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Safety First: Five Tips to Maintain a Culture of Safe Driving

June 28, 2017 Kevin McDonough

Now more than ever, we are being asked to implement energy efficiency and demand response programs more efficiently and effectively.  With all this need for speed, it’s important to maintain a culture of safety.

We all know what busy work days are like—back to back conference calls, customer and client meetings, while trying to squeeze in lunch between it all.  Mobile devices, Bluetooth, and apps make it easier. But it’s up to us to make sure we balance the need for speed and our access to technology with safety, whether we’re in the office or out in the field.

With nearly 40 offices across the country, our team is on the move constantly. Performing energy assessments, installing demand response devices and saving energy from New York to Washington State puts hundreds of thousands of miles on the odometers of our fleet vehicles each year. So safe driving is one of our top priorities.

How do we maintain a culture of safe driving for our field crews? See our checklist below for our top five tips to help create a culture of safe driving.   

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Contact Us

Contact Us to discuss how our safety culture can benefit your energy efficiency and demand response programs.

Get #Social

May 24, 2017 Brady Loomis

Do you have a Facebook page? Are you on Instagram? Use hashtags? What’s your Twitter handle? Sounds like a foreign language. But, you still want to be social. You add a profile photo and quick “about” section to each platform, simply to exist for your customers, to have a presence, a seat at the social media table. It’s better than nothing, right?

The world of social media is where almost every customer hangs out these days, yet each platform is a completely different podium. What you say and how you say it varies from Facebook to LinkedIn to Instagram to Twitter. And I’m not just talking about the character count curbing the conversation – it’s content both visual and text. Here’s an example: LinkedIn is valuable for sharing news, recruiting and showcasing culture. As a utility, you would want to post a story about your efficiency program saving a manufacturer significant costs or an employee in the field restoring power quickly.

Before you get social, consider these tips for your energy efficiency programs. You’ll gain a better grasp of the right messaging for the best channel.

Purposeful Presence: It’s not always beneficial to be everywhere. Depending on what info you want to share and with whom, certain social media sites make more sense. For instance, an electric company promoting energy efficient lighting could use Pinterest boards about the best lighting for customers’ indoor and outdoor spaces. A natural gas provider could promote attic insulation rebates on Twitter or Facebook. Think about what topics are relevant, not to just your business, but also the platform, so you don’t get tuned out.

Something to Say: Bring value to your customers. Good content is shareable – if you offer rebates or free tips, customers will want to read or even pass it along. Invest in content that is relevant to your utility or ultra-engaging. Good content makes your followers look good too. For instance, a customer shares a video from your company’s post about an energy-saving expo (psst, here’s how to make your event a success). Your customer looks like a star for passing along the local event to his/her friends. This can also bring in a new audience for you!

Keep Rhythm: Before launching any social media account, prepare content ahead of time so you can be seen in customers’ newsfeed. It’s important to stay current and consistent on your account, while not posting all day long. You should be top of mind without being too in your face.

Facebook is an Anchor: Whether you’re a Facebook fan or not, it’s undoubtedly the largest platform. If nothing else, you should use the site to:

  • Promote your other social media accounts
  • Share photos and informational links
  • Advertise and bring people to your website

Targeted ads can also help businesses and utilities reach audiences these days. They’re precise too. They can be ‘geo-targeted’ so you’re only reaching specific customers. Click through rates are higher with a strong, straightforward call to action, like ‘start now’ versus ‘want to learn more.’

Open the Conversation: One of the most organic benefits of social media is the conversation. A customer writes a nice review about your energy technician who came out to assist them at their home, you can comment back thanking them and maybe plug another program. Someone shares or comments on a picture of a new product you’re offering, you can and should respond back. This creates a positive customer experience and brand loyalty. Even if feedback is negative, respond back. Be professional, let them know their feedback is important and find a way to smooth it over.

Social media is an upward trajectory. Businesses are talking. Customers are inquiring and listening. For utility companies, you can bring added value to your customers, especially through your energy efficiency programs.  You don’t know what you’re capable of until you try.

Want to join the conversation or grow your online presence, but don’t know where to start? Franklin Energy's expert marketing team can help. 

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