Enrique Hernandez used the Focus on Energy program to make lighting changes that save him more than $600 per year in energy costs.

Affordable lighting upgrade brightens north side market

Walk through the front door of Enrique's Market on Madison's Northport Drive and you'll find that you've entered not just a store but a warm and welcoming community hub. Whether you need a piñata for your child's party, the ingredients to whip up your favorite Latin American meal or a plate of delicious tacos carne asada for lunch, you've come to the right place. Enrique Hernandez and his son, Edgar, opened the store in mid-2010, and it's quickly become a neighborhood fixture.

As independent business owners, the Hernandez family is always on the lookout for ways to run their business more efficiently. When Enrique learned that MGE offered free energy assessments to small businesses, he contacted Mayra Medrano, one of MGE's commercial marketing representatives, to learn more.

"We help small businesses find the most cost-effective ways to reduce their energy use, then steer them toward programs that can defray some portion of their costs when possible," said Medrano.

After assessing the store, Medrano found two logical avenues for improvement: lighting and the seals on the store's refrigeration equipment. "Because we don't own the building, we were a bit limited in what it made sense to change," said Edgar.

The family opted to start with the lighting upgrade. The existing fluorescent lights were all T12 tube lighting, a product that is no longer manufactured. Plus, the T12's light quality decreases over time and the fixtures' magnetic ballasts meant that the lights took a while to gain full power.

As an alternative, Medrano recommended a switch to T8 fixtures. "They use less energy and deliver more light. Plus, they have an electronic ballast and light up immediately. The light quality is much brighter and cleaner—closer to natural light."

To help fund the upgrade, MGE connected the Hernandez family with Focus on Energy, Wisconsin's statewide program for energy efficiency and renewable energy. "Focus on Energy has a great small business program that allowed the market to make all the upgrades—including electrical work, fixtures and bulbs, plus a motion-sensor light in the bathroom and a new LED exit light—for just $129," said Medrano.

Annual estimated savings for the upgrades: $610 in energy costs and 5,545 in kWh savings. Payback for the upgrade: less than three months.

"The store feels a lot more cheerful and friendly with the new lights," said Enrique. "And it's great to have the light sensor in the bathroom—we have a lot of kids in here and they don't always remember to turn out the lights!"

Both father and son enjoyed the experience of working with MGE. "Mayra took the time to learn about our needs and made sure that we understood the benefits of the updates she recommended," said Edgar. "We also appreciated being connected to the Focus program. Having these updates at such a reasonable price made it an affordable option for us."

Added Enrique, "The business next door (a laundry) saw how great our lights looked, and now they've upgraded too!"

Free Energy Assessment

To really understand how your business is using energy and how you can save money, Request an Energy Assessment from Madison Gas and Electric. We'll be glad to help.