Business owners like nothing better than finding a little extra money – except maybe winning it. And that’s exactly what happened to Elaine Perkins when she entered – and won – the 2017 DTE Energy Business Pride Contest. The grand prize win earned her a Comprehensive Energy Consultation and $5,000 to put toward energy efficiency improvements. Now in its fourth year, the contest is open to all DTE Energy business customers. If you haven’t entered, you’ll want to after you read Perkins’ story.

According to Perkins, she was “busier than busy” last summer when she received an email from DTE about the Business Pride Contest. “I never win anything, but I figured ‘what the heck,’ so I took a few minutes to answer questions about why I was proud of my small business,” she said. Owner of Tall Oaks Kennel in Whitmore Lake since 1999, Perkins runs a bustling enterprise that provides boarding, grooming and daycare for up to 60 dogs, cats, birds, guinea pigs and the occasional rabbit.

A Paw-sitive Experience with DTE Energy

A few weeks after submitting her entry, Perkins was told she was a finalist. As a finalist, she received a Comprehensive Energy Consultation (CEC) from DTE Energy that included a thorough and professional analysis of her facility’s energy usage. A DTE Energy Expert contacted her, visited Tall Oaks Kennel and conducted an assessment of her HVAC, air filtration system, water heating equipment and refrigeration, while suggesting some next steps for energy efficiency improvements.

The energy expert’s recommendations made sense to Perkins, who has long been familiar with the benefits of energy efficiency and had purchased a high-efficiency, commercial-grade washer and dryer three years prior. Now it was time for more, and on the top of her to-do list was the replacement of inefficient T-12 fluorescent lamps with energy-saving LEDs.

“I’ve wanted to upgrade the old lighting to LEDs for a long time,” Perkins said. “And when DTE Energy told me that I had won the contest and was eligible for $5,000 toward an energy makeover, I knew exactly where the money would go.”

Perkins decided to spend 100 percent of the contest money on LED lighting for the kennel’s interior. The project was completed in January 2018, and Perkins has already noticed a decrease in energy usage on her monthly electric bill.

“At the same time, I decided to add some exterior flood lights to brighten up the parking lot and illuminate the field where we walk the dogs. I paid for those myself,” Perkins said. “It was great because the contractor who installed the interior LEDs switched out all of the exterior lights to LEDs as well. It only took a couple of days. All in all, it was a very fast and smooth process, and was not disruptive to the business or the animals. It was just wonderful.”

Has the lighting made a difference? “Definitely. Not only are my monthly energy bills lower, when you walk into the building, everything’s brighter and cheerier, especially the lobby,” she said. “I look around and think ‘Now I’m going to have to paint.’ Customers walk in and ask if I’ve changed anything; they can’t quite put their finger on it. My employees love it too.”

And the animals that are boarded there? “They haven’t said anything, but I think they’re pretty happy overall,” she said.\

Be the Next Business to win a $5,000 Energy Makeover

If you’re a DTE Energy business customer and can benefit from a $5,000 Energy Makeover, enter the DTE Business Pride Contest now through July 31, 2018. Simply visit dteenergy.com/businesspride and tell us in a few words why you’re proud of your business. One lucky grand prizewinner will be chosen to receive a Comprehensive Energy Consultation along with a $5,000 Energy Makeover! Plus, you may even be featured in a future DTE advertisement or in EnergySmarts for Michigan Business. Ten second place winners will receive a Comprehensive Energy Consultation. An energy expert will visit your business, analyze your energy use and explain how you can win by lowering your energy bills.

If you’d like to upgrade your business with a $5,000 Energy Makeover, enter the DTE Business Pride Contest today. The benefits can last a lifetime.

This article originally appeared in EnergySmarts for Michigan Business magazine. 

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