Chambersburg, Pa. – With the looming cost of energy deregulation right around the corner, a local school district is saving hundreds of thousands of dollars on its energy bills without all the usual costs of “going green.”
Two summers ago, the Chambersburg Area School District contracted with Energy Education Inc., a company that helps schools, churches and businesses reduce their carbon footprint by making simple changes to daily habits.
“I think people are becoming aware of acting more green, but some people are losing the opportunity to be green by becoming an energy conserver,” said Connie Kelley, energy manager for the school district.
Kelley said in just 22 months, the district has saved more than $600,000 in utility costs alone.
“This little building last month saved over 37 percent on their electric bill and some of it has to do with how we’re running the HVAC, but some of it has to do with how your running your lighting,” said Kelley.
For example, this year maintenance workers saved old windows from a demolition at Chambersburg Area High School and re-used them at several elementary schools that needed better insulation – saving not only on future energy costs, but on new windows, which cost $2,300 apiece.
“They are double-paned, thermally-insulated, tinted glass so there’s just going to be a much better blockage of that cold air,” Kelley said.
Some of their other strategies included switching to a four-day work week in the summer in order to turn of air conditioning units on Fridays, creating an automated shut-down of all computer labs during the overnights, and soon they’ll use a Web-based remote control unit for heating and air in nearly all buildings.
“We can come in and schedule the building on for different groups and stuff,” said district maintenance supervisor David Zentmyer. “Right now if we here we have to bring on the whole building unless I physically go and shut every room off.”
With the deregulation of energy coming in January, the district says it’s ahead of the game, and homeowners can be too.
“You can’t control the cost of energy but we can all control how we’re using it,” Kelley said.
The school district has created a free online program called “Green Quest,” where you can track your own utility bills and consumption. For more information, go to www.chambersburg.k12.pa.us/energy.
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