Ski area saves big with tiny timer added to lift mechanics

By Amy Rubin, Efficiency Vermont

Okemo Mountain Resort, like many other Vermont ski areas, is always on the lookout for ways to save energy. A recent opportunity was found in one of the resort’s basic areas of operation: the ski lifts.

Ski lift mechanical systems, housed at the terminal where people board, must be kept warm in order to operate. There are heaters in each lift terminal, and although they’re needed for only a few hours each day before the lift opens, they’re critical. Failure to heat the equipment in a timely manner can result in an inoperable lift. To make sure that didn’t happen, the heaters were often being left on far longer than necessary—sometimes continuously.

Thanks to an ongoing partnership with Efficiency Vermont and a local electrician, Okemo identified this savings opportunity and added automatic timers to the heaters. By automating a simple (but important) process through a relatively small investment of $7,000 for equipment and labor, Okemo’s savings have been substantial: $31,000 each year. The payback on this investment was less than one winter season.

“We’re saving a huge amount of money each year, and we’ve simplified the process for staff,” said Eb Kinney, director of mountain operations. “This is one of the best investments we’ve ever made.”

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