As all resort operators know, lift terminals house the mechanical systems that operate the lifts, and these systems require a certain amount of heat to stay functional. For that reason, many resorts employ what’s called a lift terminal heater, a small device that warms the equipment, to keep it working properly. Heaters need to be turned on a few hours before the first run so that the mechanicals have time to warm up——especially after a cold night sitting idle. However, since operators aren’t on the job in the wee hours, most resort procedures call for heaters to be turned on as part of the lift shut-down each afternoon, which adds hours of unnecessary overnight heating.
Of course, that procedure is not foolproof. Okemo Resort, Vt., like many resorts, found that asking lift operators to manage the heaters was problematic. To avoid the chance of accidentally leaving the heater off all night (and having an out-of-service lift the next day), the terminal heaters were often left on continuously, regardless of whether the lift was running, adding significantly to costs and wasting energy.
After consulting with Efficiency Vermont, Okemo opted to invest $7,000 in equipment and labor to install timers in the lift terminals. The timers removed the need for all-night heating and eliminated the risk of human error.
By placing timer controls on the heating units and shutting them down for several hours each day, Okemo saw substantial kWh savings and lower kW demand, resulting in 360,000 total kWh saved per year. And what does saving 360,000 kWh mean for Okemo’s bottom line? After just one season of using the heating timers, the resort paid back its initial investment with a 440 percent rate of return: a yearly savings of $31,000.