Glenwood Springs CARD case study | Quick facts | Download 2-page PDF

Active Communications enjoys immediate savings
from CARD energy efficiency retrofits

By Suzie Romig

Active Communications

Active Communications store manager Maria Lopez said the new glass door makes a significant difference in controlling the store’s temperature.

In the winter of 2010, employees at Active Communications inside the Glenwood Springs Mall, 51027 Highway 6, were able to shed their extra sweaters and coats.

They didn’t have to use their space heaters from home, and their customers didn’t complain about shopping in a chilly store. In fall 2009, the cellular phone retailer received an energy audit and efficiency makeover that saves hundreds of dollars per month on winter energy bills. And, as it turns out, the retrofit is keeping employees and customers much more comfortable.

The audit and retrofit at Active Communications are part of CARD, the 2009-2010 Commercial Audit and Retrofit Demonstration project, one of many energy efficiency projects carried out through the Garfield New Energy Communities Initiative.

The audits and rebates for Active and five other businesses were funded by a local match to the Initiative by the City of Glenwood Springs, from its municipal electric utility. Project management is being funded by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs grant to the Garfield Initiative.

The Active Communications store in the Glenwood Springs Mall is one of six stores from Rifle to Dillon owned by Anita Denboske. The Glenwood store with its electric heating has the highest heating bills of the bunch. Denboske said she is grateful the retrofit program helped her be more cognizant of energy use and how to properly maintain her store’s heating and cooling system.

“That old furnace was on its way out,” said Denboske, whose other stores have much lower heating costs with gas furnaces. “Awareness for me was a big part. We are running our businesses, and we don’t think about the furnace.”

Active Communications energy savings

Quick facts

Total retrofit project cost: $6,344
CARD rebate: $4,675
Owner investment: $1,669
Savings in first two months: $552

Funded measures
Replace rooftop heating / cooling unit: $5,971
Replace three lighting units: $258
Install programmable thermostat: $115


When the free CARD energy audit was conducted by engineers from Schmueser Gordon Meyer in Glenwood Springs last fall, Denboske learned that her heating system was literally falling apart, and that it had been warming the false ceiling area and a mall storeroom as much as her store.

Workers from Walker Electric and Down Valley Heating and Cooling, both of Rifle, completed the upgrades including replacing the rooftop HVAC with a high-efficiency heating and cooling unit, installing a programmable thermostat and replacing inefficient T12 overhead lighting with T8 ballasts. The project cost $6,344, but the store owner received retrofit funding of $4,675, an almost 75 percent rebate.

Inspired by other measures recommended in the energy audit, Denboske decided to replace an open-air gate to the mall’s common area with a glass front door. Now her shop’s heat does not escape into the mail hallway.

Electricity bills for the 800-square-foot store show a significant savings in costs and decreases in power use. The highest electricity invoice from January 2009 showed 9,314 kilowatts used at a cost of $778. The highest monthly bill after the work was completed in mid-December showed 5,085 kilowatts used at $425.

The store employees are looking forward to a more comfortable and quiet summer season as well. Last summer they rarely ran the air conditioner because of high costs. They opened the outside emergency exit door to let in the breeze, but that created problems with dust and security for merchandise. They ran electric fans, but that was loud and windy for customers.

The local business owner was pleased with the results and looks forward to tracking more savings. She said she now understands ways to be more frugal and to conserve energy.

“This was lifesaver for me,” Denboske said of the audit and retrofit project. “It was extremely worthwhile.”