Inn Serendipity: Country Inn Goes Fossil Fuel Free


Energy Conservation and Renewable Energy Earns Inn Serendipity an Award

Washington, D.C. – Inn Serendipity of Browntown, WI, won more than the 2004 ENERGY STAR Small Business Network Award it received. It has saved even more money this winter than originally expected, due to the predicted 50% average rise in heating costs.

Recognized by Natural Home & Garden magazine as one of the “Top 10 Eco-Destinations in North America,” Inn Serendipity is one of nine small businesses named 2004 ENERGY STAR Small Business Network Award winners today. The firms had the foresight to undertake energy efficiency improvements that saved $40,000 in annual energy costs and more than 590,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually and those 2004 upgrades will be even more valuable this winter.

Early predictions from the Department of Energy (DOE) Energy Information Administration (EIA) on winter heating costs contained uncertainty, but predicted that consumers nationwide would spend 34% more for heating oil this winter, 52% more for natural gas, 16% more for coal, and 11% more for electricity. More recent predictions show these numbers rising, and small businesses are certain to feel the impact.

Inn Serendipity is a bed and breakfast and organic farm, owned by Lisa Kivirist and John Ivanko. The farmhouse also houses JDI Enterprises, Inc., their home-based, creative services and marketing company. Situated on 5.5 acres of land, it is approximately 1,969 square feet in size.

Starting with increasing the energy efficiency of the bed and breakfast, the owners incorporated an array of improvements and innovative strategies. The bed and breakfast installed double-paned, low-emissivity (low-E) windows, the attic space was insulated to a R-Value of R-19, caulking and weather-stripping was applied, and the water heater and hot water pipes were insulated. The only cooling used is an ENERGY STAR qualified room air conditioner for the office. Much of the Inn’s water heating is provided by a solar thermal system, so guests shower with water heated by the sun. ENERGY STAR qualified screw-in compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) were used throughout the facility. Laundering of clothing and linens is accomplished by an ENERGY STAR qualified washing machine. Its refrigerator is an ENERGY STAR qualified Sun Frost.

In addition to the bed and breakfast, the Inn has taken steps to improve the performance of other buildings on the property. For example, a solar thermal system provides the primary heating for a greenhouse that is primarily constructed with straw bales used as insulation, providing walls with a R-value of R-43. Combined, the Inn’s energy-efficiency measures are saving it about 800 kWh of electricity, 143 gallons of number two heating oil, and $320 annually. Recently, the Inn has begun processing used fryer oil into biodiesel to be used in its back-up heating systems for the greenhouse. Kivirist and Ivanko’s book, Rural Renaissance: Renewing the Quest for the Good Life (New Society, 2004), captures their entire story at Inn Serendipity and provides practical resources on how other small businesses and homeowners can do the same, regardless of where they are based.

The Inn is also generating clean, renewable electricity on-site harnessed from the wind and sun using a .5 kW photovoltaic and 10 kW Bergey wind turbine system. The Inn’s renewable energy systems are generating approximately 8,500 kWh of renewable energy annually and saving approximately $1,000.

Collectively, the Inn’s efforts, with the help of rebates from the Wisconsin Focus on Energy and WisconSUN program, plus in-kind support from others, are saving a total of $1,070 and preventing approximately 18,600 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually. The home-based business is essentially fossil-fuel free and climate-neutral in its operations based on other carbon dioxide sequestering initiatives, like planting trees.

The ENERGY STAR national awards program honors organizations for exemplary pollution prevention and stewardship of the environment via energy efficiency. The awards are based on the effective reduction of energy costs resulting from upgrading facilities or implementing ENERGY STAR recommendations during 2004. This year’s winners include five companies from California and one each from Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin. Together these firms are saving 321,000 kWh of electricity, 12,500 Therms of natural gas and 143 gallons of heating oil. A range of improvements included ENERGY STAR office equipment and/or appliances, straw bale construction, solar and wind energy generation, and programs to educate guests about energy saving. Full details on each of the winners’ energy saving efforts can be found at the ENERGY STAR Small Business website, Small businesses that invest strategically can cut utility costs 25-30%, and make significant contributions to a cleaner environment.