Figure 1 Food For People 14th Street Entrance Eureka, CA Photo by Rebecca Ransom

Food For People is designated as Humboldt County California's food bank. Food For People operates 13 food distribution programs throughout Humboldt County, including The After School Snack Program, Backpacks for Kids Program, The Gleaning Program, and direct food distribution on Wednesdays and Fridays to an average of 1000 households per month.[1] The Redwood Coast Energy Alliance (RCEA) was contracted by Anne Holcomb, Executive Director of Food For People, to implement an energy efficiency upgrade, consisting of lighting retrofits. A retrofit is the addition of new or modified parts or equipment not available or considered necessary at the time of manufacture.[2] The client is considering installing a Photovoltaic Solar Power System, therefore it is important to the client to have the business's energy usage as efficient as possible. According to Holcomb, utilities are one of the highest costs for this client. The client has two walk-in freezers and one walk-in refrigerator, as well as three newer refrigerator units in the lobby. The majority of Food for People's energy usage comes from the refrigeration units.

The Retrofits[edit | edit source]

The retrofits were completed on September 8, 2008. The retrofits are summarized in Table 1. The RCEA estimated the client would save $217.50 per year and offset an estimated 783lbs/year CO2. The cost of the upgrades was $324.21. RCEA paid $224.09 and the client paid $199.40.[3]

Table 1 Retrofits at Food For People

Pre Retrofit Post Retrofit Installation Cost Annual Projected Savings
2 Incandescent 60 Watt Bulbs 2 Compact Fluorescent 18 Watt Lights $27.84 $31.06
1 Four foot 59 W Fluorescent T12 and ballast 1 Four foot 32 W Fluorescent T8 fixture and lights $49.84 $55.22
8 Flood Lights 50 W 8 CFL Flood Lights 19 W $145.84 $131.15
  • The client did not change their lighting habits after the retrofit, but according to Anne Holcomb, the office employees have been making an effort to turn off all the computers in the evenings when no one is working.
  • According to Holcomb, Food For People would not have done the lighting retrofits without help from the RCEA. The RCEA approached the client about the retrofits.
  • The client moved forward with the project in the event that they could save money by using less kWh. A kWh is a unit of energy used by electricity companies to measure electricity usage.[4]

Data Analysis[edit | edit source]

  • The Lighting retrofit was completed on September 8, 2009. The overall energy usage from Sept 2008-Sept 2009 went up 3% from the same time period in 2006-2007. This is most likely due to the malfunctioning refrigeration units discovered by the Engineers without Borders, as well as the additions of new upright refrigerators in the lobby.
  • According to the Customer Report prepared by the RCEA, the client should have saved 1,506 kWh/yr. The simple payback calculated by RCEA was 0.9 yrs.
  • At this time, it is unclear as to whether the lighting upgrades completed in September of 2008 provided the client with energy savings. The energy usage for this client has been increasing over the years for which data was provided. Table 3 shows the three months in 2009, June, July, and August, in which the energy usage was down from the previous year. Currently, all of the refrigeration units are working properly, and therefore the client should expect to continue to see energy savings.
  • For the months of June, July and August; the energy demand dropped 314 kWh from the previous year, and saved 164.54 lbs of CO2.
  • More energy savings for the client are expected after the refrigeration upgrades are completed.

Table 2 Summary of the RCEA Predictions

Simple Payback Estimated Energy Savings Estimated Monthly Savings
0.9 years 1,506 kWh/year $18.12

Table 3 June July and August kWh use and savings

Month 2008 kWh 2009 kWh kWh savings COOffset in lbs (.52lbCO2/kwH)
June 2,418 2,241 177 92.75
July 2,228 2,137 91 47.68
August 2,239 2,193 46 24.10
3 month totals 6,885 6,571 314


Fig. 2 The Green Line is the kWh/month for the year after the Retrofits.

Figure 2 The green line is the kWh/month for the year after the retrofits. The Retrofit was completed September 8, 2008

Future Retrofits[edit | edit source]

  • Food For People is currently planning refrigeration retrofits. These upgrades will include timer controlled evaporator fans and new Electronically Commuted Motors (ECM's). The Electronically Commuted Motor is an ultra high efficiency programmable brushless DC motor utilizing a permanent magnet rotor and built-in inverter.[5] Local engineers from Engineers Without Borders came performed a data monitoring project using KW meters to record the energy consumption of the refrigeration units in order to diagnose potential problems. The engineers located a refrigeration unit that was low on coolant and was running constantly. With an estimated savings of 6,435 KWH/year, and a $965.21 savings per year, the Food for People Executive Director, Anne Holcomb, is ready for the refrigeration retrofits to happen. The RCEA and the people from Engineers Without Borders have been helping get the grants to install the refrigeration upgrades, which will cost $3,306.86, with a simple payback of 0.6 years and a predicted 173% return on the investment each year.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Food For People, Retrieved on Dec 12, 2009 from
  2. Merriam-Webster Online, date:1953, Retrieved on May 11, 2009, from
  3. Lou Jacobson,Redwood Coast Energy Authority,July 28,2008, Customer Report
  4. Wikipedia, Kilowatt Hour, Retrieved on Dec 12, 2009 from
  5. Nailor Industries Inc., The ECM Motor Story, Retrieved 12/11/2009,
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