The main wing of this beautiful, historic church was built in 1883. A smaller addition was added 50 years ago. The church is a Newaygo landmark, and the community treasures it. But until recently, parishioners shivered in the colder months and strained to hear the sermon, thanks to the church’s antiquated, noisy and inefficient heating system – a system that utilized two Sally Like’s business is all about looking good, so lighting is critical. For many years she got by with 20 fluorescent fixtures fitted with power-hungry eightfoot T12 bulbs and magnetic ballasts.

Then she read that the T12 bulbs would soon be discontinued and knew it was time to upgrade to more efficient lighting. At about the same time, she received a fortuitous e-mail from DTE Energy furnaces, one perilously located under the floor of the main building.

Mr. Gould, whose vestry duties include managing the financial business of the church, recognized that updating could yield substantial savings while making the church a nicer place to worship, so he contacted Paulsen Heating & Cooling in Fremont, Michigan to see what could be done. Fortunately, he didn’t stop there. He also called DTE Energy after learning about the Energy Optimization Incentive Program at

Paulsen recommended a system utilizing a 93 percent-efficient natural gas hot water furnace to heat the newer wing. That same unit would provide hot water for a heat exchanger and forced air system in the main wing, eliminating the heating plant below the floor. Because not all areas of the church are in use at the same time, three, seven-day programmable thermostats were installed to control temperature efficiently.

DTE Energy engineers assisted Mr. Gould in the decision-making process and helped him determine where incentives might apply. Ultimately, DTE Energy provided over $700, in financing.

The result: Approximately $1,000 in annual energy savings and no shivering in the pews. Now, when a bride and groom say, “I do,” everyone present can hear them loud and clear.

This article originally appeared in EnergySmarts for Michigan Business magazine.

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