Home Energy Fairfield’s Circle Diner finds new savings in energy efficiency

Fairfield’s Circle Diner finds new savings in energy efficiency

The Circle Diner along the Post Road in Fairfield serves breakfast, lunch and dinner during a business day that can last up to 15 hours. As the lights need to stay on throughout the day, a considerable amount of the diner’s overhead is literally overhead.

The installation of new LED lights along with improvements to the diner’s dishwashers, refrigerators and aerator systems was completed in December by United Illuminating, a subsidiary of Avangrid, with funding via a rebate from the Energize CT.

According to Avangrid Senior Conservation and Load Management Manager Hammad Chaudhry, by simply switching to LED lighting the diner has reduced its power consumption by as much as 46,000 kilowatt-hours a year.

“They had some very old lighting,” Chaudhry explained. “The challenge was high bills and maintenance costs. The older bulbs burn out rather quickly. We changed them to energy star LED bulbs which is an extremely efficient technology.”

The Circle Diner in Fairfield at night. Photo by Justin McGown.

The energy savings and environmental impact of the simple switch was equivalent to permanently taking seven vehicles off the roads, and the impact on the bottom line is even starker: The electricity savings alone at the current United Illuminating business rate of 9.91¢ per kWh amount to $346.85 per month, before factoring in needing fewer bulbs and spending less time replacing them.

Gus Tsilfides, co-owner of the Circle Diner for 18 years, noticed more than just a smaller electric bill.

“The results are positive from my perspective,” he said. “The lighting is softer and brighter.”

Tsifilides said he has even had comments from customers who appreciate the new lighting system’s more appealing tone, which is less likely to unexpectedly go out and cast a corner of the diner into shadow. The installation was also comparatively painless.

“It was done largely without disruption of the business,” he said. “They worked around our schedule at the times when business was slower and wouldn’t disturb customers.”

Chaudhry said that United Illuminating uses a mix of local contractors and their own employees to perform upgrades like those at the diner. And thanks to subsidies available to businesses performing these upgrades, the-out-of-pocket costs for business owners is often minimal.

“The project itself was about $24,000,” Chaudhry said. “We covered the bulk of the cost and found other incentives to apply for, and that came close to $18,000.”

For $6,000 out of pocket, the diner will be able to realize annual savings of around $4,160 annually.

The Circle Diner was just one of 265 small businesses in Connecticut to take advantage of the program offered by United Illuminating in the past year, taking advantage of roughly $7 million in incentives. Chaudry encouraged small business owners who are customers of United Illuminating or Eversource to visit the Energize CT website to see the new incentives being made available in 2022.

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