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Energy Educator Column

Energy Educator lightbulbThree Years of Savings Really Add Up

Save money! This statement is used all over by businesses trying to sell their wares to other businesses. In essence what they are saying is that by spending money on their product, that over time you will ultimately save money. Some products and/or services are undoubtedly good ones, but how can you be sure that the money you are spending is cost effective? For our district it was by recommendations from other districts who had hired Energy Education to help them save money.

In 2001, the South Colonie Central School district hired Energy Education Inc. to help us implement an energy management program under their guidance. The program was unique in that no money needed to be budgeted for it. The fees to pay Energy Education for their services came out of savings derived from the program. If we did not save money, they would not get paid. The program had three primary goals:

  • To not interfere with the school day.

  • To minimize energy waste by being environmentally responsible.

  • To save dollars that were being lost through energy waste and recycle these savings back into the education system.

To date, the energy program has been a success averaging 20 percent savings in the first three years, and avoiding over $700,000 in energy expenses during the same time period. This success was recently confirmed when I met with a representative from Johnson Controls. This company did energy conservation work for our district in 1996, and I was meeting with them to confirm that their work actually met the savings they had guaranteed.

When reviewing our district’s energy data, he commented on a noticeable change in the data in the end of the year 2001. Prior to this time, the amount of electricity that our district consumed rose every year. After 2001, there has been a steady decline. He was amazed that this was done by the users of the buildings (you) operating their equipment (lighting, computers, etc.) more efficiently.

About a week later I was reminded of just how deeply the gentleman was impressed when I received a phone call from a Johnson Controls rep from a different area. He was talking to the rep for our district, and wanted to confirm that we generated our savings just by using our equipment more efficiently!

The most important thing to remember is that this program is one of common sense and assuming ownership of your building. If you are not using a piece of equipment, it should be turned off. We can’t waste what is not turned on. By the same token, if you need it, use it. Thanks to everyone for their cooperation and have a great school year!