By: Aaron Handel

June 3, 2014

Silver Star Diner's Energy Initiative Saves Big Bucks

NORWALK – For over 30 years, the family-owned Silver Star Diner on Connecticut Avenue has been a popular location for Norwalk residents, and passersby who can see the diner’s iconic sign going down I-95 near Exit 14.

Yet with any eatery comes a boatload of expenses, no matter how popular the establishment.

However, the Silver Star, working with the contracting company Earthlight Technologies as well as Connecticut Light & Power (CL&P) and Yankee Gas, through the state regulated Energize Connecticut’s Small Business Advantage Program, recently instituted several energy efficient changes, which will end up saving owner Alex Savvidis almost $20,000 a year.

Most notably, the light bulbs on the sign have been switched from traditional incandescent bulbs to LEDs (light-emitting diodes), which have previously been used in objects like traffic lights or car headlights, but are now becoming “more and more cost effective,” according to Enoch Lenge, the Energy Efficiency Spokesperson for CL&P and Yankee Gas.

“LEDs are the new wave of future for lighting,” Lenge said. “They have a lifetime from 12-25 years, whereas incandescent bulbs go out all the time.”

Not only will a significant amount of energy be saved from the transition, Lenge said, but also maintenance fees will be significantly reduced, by not having to constantly change the bulbs on the sign, something Savvidis is greatly thrilled by.

“Nobody thinks about that,” he said. “This is really an amazing system.”

The sign, while the biggest aspect of the project, is far from the only piece of the puzzle. Inside the building, automatic temperature control, a new interior lighting system, and new exhaust fans in the kitchen are several of the other components of the project.

Savvidis’ utility bills will be more costly, for the time being. But the entire project will pay for itself in four years, Lenge said, and after that, Savvidis will be saving $19,400 a year, cutting back on expenditures, electricity, and natural gas.

Amazingly, the project was almost nixed before it even began.

“I put it on the shelf,” Savvidis said. “But they kept coming back, and I’m glad they convinced me (to go through with the plans). I wish I knew about this earlier.”

The development was even appealing on CL&P and Yankee Gas’ end.

“The comprehensiveness of the project, with all the different measures, is exciting to us,” Lenge said. “To be able to save a significant amount of energy, and work on a visual landmark, a staple (the sign),” was really appealing.

Additionally, Savvidis thinks that these changes might even reel in more customers. Speaking to the climate control in particular, he said, “Conditions are now more comfortable. I think people will appreciate that.” He also believes his employees in the kitchen “will work more efficiently” because they will be more comfortable.

Savvidis also says other small business owners should look into implementing similar changes, both because of the environmental benefits as well as the cost-saving effects.

“Look into it,” he advised. “Save energy in Norwalk, in Connecticut, for the world.”