Energy is a key element to any spa. It powers our buildings, heats and cools our environments, and gets us there. It is an important input, but one we can be more conscious and smart about, to benefit of our bottom line, the health of the planet, and the societies in which we live. Cleaner air quality and less pressure on the environment are two beneﬁts of using less energy. Insulation from rising energy costs and global oil shortages is another major beneﬁt of conservation and using renewable resources. New technology will also help to conserve energy as alternatives to outdated designs are implemented.
Energy conservation is the number one green practice that businesses implement due to the direct cost savings. The average annual return on investment for energy efﬁciency retroﬁts and weatherization is more than 20 percent. Heating, ventilation, and cooling systems are a major utility cost. Lighting is approximately 30% of electricity costs. Cost savings helps the bottom line and can in turn be used for other expenses or investments.
An important first step for any spa is information gathering, analyzing current energy usage. Many state, regional, and local municipalities have programs that help small businesses perform energy audits and efficiency upgrades. These investments have an immediate financial return and add marketing value to your spa. Sometimes, funds are available in the form of grants or loans. Contact your local power provider for guidance. The Small Business Association has a list of such resources organized by state.
Beyond increased energy awareness and efficiency, the origin of energy also matters. Green power and renewable energy can be obtained in a variety of ways, and many funding incentives are available to those who invest. If your facilities and property allow for it, on-site renewable energy may be an option. These include solar electric, solar hot water, wind, hydroelectric, geothermal, and biomass energy. Passive solar may also allow your spa to take advantage of natural solar resources for solar heating, daylighting, etc. If on-site renewable energy is not feasible, Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) or carbon offsets can be purchased through a local utility or offset suppliers.
Transportation accounts for 27.5% of the energy use in the US, and thus is another opportunity to green your spa’s energy practices. Baseline strategies for incentivizing alternative transportation options can range from offering free or preferred parking for carpoolers, hybrid/electric vehicles to treatment incentives for walk-ins or bikers. Alternative-fuel shuttles for guests are sometimes offered by spas and hotels.