Joel Faber, Little Eden Facilities Manager, holds a new LED on the porch of one of the campground's cabins.
With 10 utility bills coming in every month, the operating costs of Little Eden Camp, located on the shores of Portage Lake in Onekama MI were astronomical. Currently covering 45 acres, this historic camp began in 1944 with a small group of men from Ohio stepping out in faith to purchase the then 10-acre property. Since that time, Little Eden’s footprint has grown, and the camp’s utility demands have grown along with it. Today there are over 45 structures at Little Eden; four of these are over 100 years old.
Visitors to Little Eden can easily see the reason for the name, but unlike its namesake, this Eden requires a great deal of effort to maintain and flourish. Creation care is at the heart of camp operations. Over the years, the staff has been very intentional at taking cost-effective measures to make Little Eden more energy efficient whenever the opportunity arose, however operating costs remained high.
Camp Director Wayne Faber learned about rebates for lighting through an email he had received from Michigan IPL, which provided the inspiration to proceed with the more substantial project of retrofitting 4 ft fluorescent tube lighting with T-LEDs.
A small army of volunteers worked together to retrofit the fixtures and install high-efficiency LEDs purchased through the Consumers Energy Instant Discount program.
The result? The camp's lights are brighter and eighty percent (80%) of project cost was covered by the rebates, and the camp's utilities bills reflect the difference. As great as that was, Little Eden was just getting started.
“Our desire is to continue to care for God’s Creation by being better stewards with our electricity consumption, reducing our impact on our world and in turn, saving the camp money on utility bills.”
- Wayne Faber, Camp Director
When the opportunity for a free Energy Assessment with a Consumers Energy Assessor came up, Wayne was glad to participate. The assessment involved a walkthrough of the entire property and free replacement of over 750 incandescent bulbs with 9-watt LEDs. Without the need to cover the purchase cost of these bulbs, it’s easy to see that Little Eden saved over $3,000 on just the bulbs alone.
Since the Consumers Energy Energy Advisor did the labor of installing these bulbs, and since the lifespan of LED bulbs is 10+ times longer than incandescent lights, there are further savings to the camp’s maintenance budget. In addition, about 3,000 kWh less electricity is now being used each month. The lights will keep burning brightly at Little Eden, as these new bulbs will not need replacing for an estimated 25,000 hours. If the lights were on 8 hours a day, that’s 8.5 years worth of use!
Following up on the assessment, the camp received a written report, outlining the various ways electricity is being used at the facility as well as providing suggestions for additional energy-saving opportunities. Little Eden took action, contracting a Consumers Energy Trade Ally to upgrade the outdoor lighting fixtures and help the camp access financing and rebates for the replacement lights. Little Eden Camp anticipates that the outdoor lighting upgrades will pay for themselves within three years, providing better visibility, improved efficiency, and financial savings for years to come.
The energy savings at Little Eden will be ongoing as the camp has long range plans to expand its operations. Mr. Faber states, “Participating in the energy assessment helped us realize areas we could improve and assisted us in making those energy efficiency upgrades.” With its focus on faith and efficiency, the next 78 years at Little Eden will be bright!
For more information on how your organization, nonprofit, house of worship, or camp can save energy with a free assessment, please reach out to Michigan Interfaith Power & Light’s Energy Programs Manager, Jennifer Young, by email at: [email protected] or by phone at: (248) 463-8811.