How to Decrease My Health Club’s Energy Costs This Winter

Volatile winter weather can cause your health club’s energy costs to skyrocket. But there are measures you can take to keep your costs down during cold weather months and all year long.

“The only thing predictable about winter weather is its unpredictability” may be a cliché, but that doesn’t make it any less true.

In North America, the 2019-2020 winter is expected to be “warmer than average for many” and “wetter in the North,” according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). However, it cautions that “cold weather is anticipated and some areas could still experience a colder-than-average winter.”

If you operate a health club, cold weather is more than just an inconvenience; rising heat and electricity costs could do serious damage to your bottom line. Rather than cross your fingers and hope NOAA is right about the warm temperatures, now is the time to take action.

We talked to an expert at IHRSA Group Purchasing provider APPI Energy to learn how you can lower your energy costs this winter.

What causes energy costs to rise during the winter?

Before learning how to save on energy costs, it helps to understand what causes costs to fluctuate. The three major factors that contribute to energy costs are:

  1. Weather
  2. Energy production
  3. Energy supply

“Winter is traditionally a volatile time and generally has higher electricity and natural gas pricing,” says Susan Skirta, communication specialist for APPI Energy. “If the 2019-2020 winter season brings chilling winds, dropping temperatures, and freezing conditions causing a spike in heat demand, then prices would rise along with it. On the other hand, we may encounter a mild winter with mild pricing as a result.”

Facilities Winter Building Valves Column

How can my health club decrease energy costs this winter?

Since many health club facilities are larger buildings with high ceilings, volatile winter weather can make it difficult to keep a consistent temperature indoors, driving up your energy costs.

“Unfavorable weather conditions cause many athletes to bring their workouts indoors while January brings about the New Year’s Resolutions crowd,” Skirta says. “Higher foot traffic in and out of buildings allows for heat escape, increased machine use, and longer lighting hours with darker, shorter days” are all elements that contribute to higher energy use during cold months.

To determine how you can decrease your energy costs, first talk to an energy consultant. They can analyze your billing history and identify future pricing to help avoid the volatility of winter. Next, bring in an expert to perform a facility assessment. This person can identify ways to modernize old systems and equipment, as well as improve the environmental impact of your facility. This can include:

  • Optimizing lighting retrofits
  • Weatherizing the facility
  • Advanced metering technologies
  • A demand response program

“The demand response program would allow clients to reduce energy usage during peak times such as the coldest days of the year,” Skirta says. “Clients can receive both compensations and reduction in capacity tags for reducing their usage during peak hours.”

“Higher foot traffic in and out of buildings allows for heat escape, increased machine use, and longer lighting hours with darker, shorter days are all elements that contribute to higher energy use during cold months.”

Susan Skirta, Communication Specialist

APPI Energy - Salisbury, MD

What part of my energy bill should I keep an eye on this winter?

No matter the season, it is always a good idea to keep an eye on your energy contract and bills.

If your club is in a deregulated energy market, where you’re allowed to choose a competitive supplier, Skirta recommends reviewing multiple supplier offers well in advance of your contract end date.

This “can help avoid the price volatility that generally increases as you get closer to the actual term,” she says. “This approach can provide a benchmark price for comparison and help you buy on the inevitable dips in the market.”

As you review offers, pay close attention to what is—or is not—included in the price, as contract terms vary greatly. You should also review your energy supply bill periodically and compare the billed price per kWh to the original contract price. Doing so will help you identify any price adjustments or unexpected additional charges.

In regulated markets where the utility is the only option, health club operators should review the utility bill periodically and compare it to previous bills. As you review, look for unexpected spikes in usage or costs so you can spot any metering or billing problems.

“Regardless of who provides your energy supply, keep your account information confidential and inform staff to not provide any account information to callers who may claim to be with the utility, offer rebates, or may even already know your account number,” Skirta says. “Reputable companies will gladly provide additional background information so you can properly vet them before giving specific account details.”

How can APPI Energy help my health club save this winter?

APPI participates in the IHRSA Group Purchasing program, which enables our members to save hundreds or even thousands of dollars on licensing, housekeeping and appliances, utilities, and more. An APPI Energy consultant can analyze your energy bills and recommend a qualified supplier to provide the best pricing, contract terms, and contract length for your business operation.

APPI Energy can also provide a facility assessment through its energy solutions division to implement projects such as lighting retrofits, solar, and demand response programs through curtailment, while securing all available rebates and incentives from your local utility.

Reach out to APPI Energy today to see how they can assist you in lowering your energy bills.

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Marianne Aiello

Marianne Aiello previously served as IHRSA's Senior Digital Content Manager—a position focused on crafting and monitoring IHRSA’s digital strategy and covering IHRSA events.