For many small businesses with already tight budgets, energy efficiency upgrades aren't always a top priority. This was the case for the Pemi Youth Center (PYC) in Plymouth, New Hampshire, where the main focus is providing children with an afterschool and weekend destinations that supports and nurtures their talents and interests. At PYC, however, some building issues couldn't be ignored. The center had minimal heat reaching the second floor and had to resort to using a space heater to warm a room used for a baby and mother playgroup. Lighting the art room also posed problems, as the only available plug was in the ceiling.
After hearing about the success of recent home energy upgrades in their area, PYC Executive Director Jessica Dutille and Program Director Bryan Dutille reevaluated the affordability of energy efficiency upgrades for the center. The Dutilles researched energy efficiency financing options offered through Plymouth BetterBuildings—one of three communities that collectively make up BetterBuildings New Hampshire's Beacon Communities Project—and decided to start PYC's upgrade process with an onsite energy assessment performed by Plymouth BetterBuildings partner, Plymouth Area Renewable Energy Initiative.
Following the assessment, PYC made the recommended energy efficiency upgrades, which included new insulation and air sealing, a new hot water heater, programmable thermostats, improved lighting, and new doors. To finance the upgrades, PYC applied for grants that covered much of the project costs and borrowed the remainder with a 1% interest rate from a Plymouth BetterBuildings bank partner. PYC expects to save $900 and achieve 29% energy savings as a result of the upgrades in just the first year. After five years, PYC estimates that it will save $2,100 annually. Saving money and knowing that the building will be warmer in the winter, cooler in the summer, and have better lighting year-round allows the Dutilles to focus on helping the children who come to the center each day, instead of worrying about their comfort.