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Historic hotel shines bright, saves energy

Almost 11,000 bulbs replaced in Arlington by WAYNE BRYAN Staff Writer | February 16, 2012 at 4:45 a.m.

— It’s a brighter time for the Arlington Resort Hotel & Spa as the historic landmark hotel in Hot Springs made a major commitment for energy conversation.

“We’ve retrofitted close to 11,000 light bulbs in the hotel with more energy-efficient ones,” Arlington General Manager Bob Martorana said.

“The bulbs were changed in all the hallways and the hotel’s 485 guest rooms and with some in the ballroom and restaurants. We also changed out the ballasts for the lights in the offices and kitchen.”

The standard light bulbs were replaced with compact florescent lights, or CFLs, that use less energy for the same amount of light.It was important that the lighting not diminish in the rooms, especially the bathrooms.

“For the makeup lights in the guest rooms, we had used lights that were 93- to 100-watts; they were replaced with 7-watt bulbs,” Martorana said, “yet we got the same amount of light, according to the measurements that were made.”

As an extra benefit, the general manager said the guest rooms are cooler now because the new bulbs produce less heat.

The only lights left unchanged in the hotel are the chandeliers. Martorana said he had not yet found small dimmable bulbs for those fixtures.

“We feel the hotel looks brighter now,” he said. “We found light that had the same soft light we had before. We wanted a warm light, not a harsh white light.”

Also changed were large fans that move air in the hotel laundry.

“Those big motors were around 50 years old, and we brought in more-efficient ones,” Martorana said.

The major exchange of light bulbs was completed two months ago. Since that time, the hotel’s electric bill has gone down dramatically, Martorana said. He said the change has saved about 80 kilowatts of energy each month from thesame period last year, even with the hotel enjoying a higher occupancy rate.

“It was a saving of $4,500 to $5,000 a month,” Martorana said.

“It surprised me. You hear about all these energy-saving things, but we found they really do save that much.”

The light-exchange program was made possible with a Home Energy Affordability Loan (HEAL) administered by the William J. Clinton Foundation Climate Initiative.

“We got a call from Mary Jane Murray of the Clinton Climate Initiative in Little Rock, and she said the hotel was selected as the sole program participant in the 4th Congressional District last year,” Martorana said.

The hotel was a demonstration of what savings could be achieved with the program that is available for individual homeowners.

When the hotel accepted the opportunity to participate in the program, an energy audit was conducted for the property, and the changes made in the retrofit were suggested.

Following the great lightbulb switch, the hotel received an incentive rebate check for almost $58,000 from Entergy-Arkansas.

Martorana said some of the money saved because of the changes made at the hotel would help fund no-interest loans to the hotel’s employees to help them make energy-efficient improvements at their homes, repaying the loans through payroll deductions.

“One employee has used a $2,000 loan to retrofit his own house, and the employee is saving $200 a month for his family,” Martorana said.

The light-bulb exchange was done while the hotel was open and operating, almost without the knowledge of the guests, the general manager said.

“We made the changes during a low-occupancy time, using a company called CLEAResult,” Martorana said.

The company made sure the exchange followed the guidelines for the rebates.

“This program was really great because the hotel did a lot of light retrofits throughout the entire facility,” Tim Kennedy with CLEAResult stated in the announcement of the retrofit. “We’ve never had a hotel participate like this before.”

Staff writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at (501) 244-4460 or wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

Tri-Lakes, Pages 59 on 02/16/2012

Print Headline: Historic hotel shines bright, saves energy

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