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Archive for Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Lawrence schools save on utility bills by unplugging electronics, lowering thermostat during holiday breaks

November 23, 2010

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Energy break

Headed to grandma’s house — or anywhere else — for a few days over Thanksgiving? John Geist, who manages the Lawrence school district’s energy program, offers these suggestions for trimming energy use while you’re away:

Turn down the thermostat. “But not off,” he says. “You don’t want your pipes to freeze, but you don’t need the home 70 degrees when no one is there.”

Unplug TVs, stereo systems, phone chargers and other items, especially ones that have a light or a display. They use power, and can account for as much of 5 percent of energy use.

Control lights. Indoor and outdoor lights can be placed on inexpensive timers, automatically providing illumination only when it’s dark or otherwise appropriate.

Cool the water heater. Turn down the temperature.

Teachers are unloading their refrigerators, flipping off computer monitors and unplugging their coffee pots — all to help the Lawrence school district save a few bucks over the Thanksgiving break.

It’s all part of an ongoing program to trim utility costs, thus far saving the district at least $3.6 million.

Turn off. Unplug. Conserve.

While on vacation.

“In your house, a 2,000-square-foot house, it makes a difference,” said Frank Harwood, chief operations officer for the Lawrence school district. “We have over a million square feet. When you look at it on that scale, it adds up a lot faster.”

During the five days of fall break and over the two-week winter break, the district expects to avoid spending anywhere from $7,000 to $10,000 that otherwise would be lost on unnecessary energy.

Thermostats in all two dozen of the district’s buildings — that’s 15 elementary schools, four junior highs, two high schools, district headquarters, the Community Connections Center and a maintenance shop — will be set at 55 degrees, down from the usual 70 to 72 degrees considered appropriate for teaching, working and otherwise supporting education for more than 10,000 students.

Add in the benefits of turning off lights and unplugging power-sucking appliances, and the relatively few changes will make a difference when the district’s monthly power bills arrive. Last year the district spent $320,000 on utilities in November and December, a total that would have been about 3 percent higher had the conservation initiative not been in place.

“We have over 600 classrooms districtwide, and over half have refrigerators,” said John Geist, the district’s supervisor for building support services. “Those things run at $4 to $8 a month, per unit, so you can see how this stuff adds up.”

The Lawrence school board empowered the districtwide program in 2003, looking to trim expenses through efficiency. The district hired a consulting company for $440,000 to come up with an energy plan, one guaranteed to save the district $3 million within the first seven years.

Even before the seven-year window closed in June, the district already had cut its $14.38 million in expected energy costs during that period to $10.98 million, Geist said. The $3.4 million savings continues to mount.

The district’s utility bills are about the same now as they were back in 2003, Geist said, before the district added another 150,000 square feet of space to its inventory by building a new South Junior High School and expanding the three other junior highs.

“It’s really incredible,” he said. “It all adds up.”

Comments

gccs14r 4 years, 1 month ago

Why do any classrooms have refrigerators?

Carol Bowen 4 years, 1 month ago

"Teachers are unloading their refrigerators, flipping off computer monitors and unplugging their coffee pots — all to help the Lawrence school district save a few bucks over the Thanksgiving break."

The statement does not say that the refrigerators are in classrooms.

Carol Bowen 4 years, 1 month ago

Oops. I stand corrected. Now I say that refrigerators for personal use should be in common areas like break rooms only.

weeslicket 4 years, 1 month ago

“We have over 600 classrooms districtwide, and over half have refrigerators,” said John Geist, the district’s supervisor for building support services.

really people. this is just a kooky statement.

easy test: 1. walk through any public school tomorrow (after checking in with the office) 2. walk about a bit. (consider a student escort) 3. but mostly consider: does every other room (half of them, 50%, something more than 300 classrooms generally) actually contain a refrigerator? 4. check back in with the office folks and go home. 5. learn to recognize kooky talk when it spits in your eye. 6. practice mixing metaphors. just for your own kooky fun.

Fixed_Asset 4 years, 1 month ago

A teacher's personal refrigerator would not be on a fixed asset report.

mcontrary 4 years, 1 month ago

The same reason offices have refrigeratos, coffee pots, etc.

mcontrary 4 years, 1 month ago

The same reason offices have refrigerators, coffee pots, etc.

Centerville 4 years, 1 month ago

If you extrapolate the Nov / Dec savings, we haven't even saved enough to pay the consultant. Why not offer up annual usage numbers, not 'expected' dollar amounts, or anything that would make $3,600,000 a believable number?

jafs 4 years, 1 month ago

If you read the article again, you'll find that they hired the consultant in 2003, that the savings were guaranteed to be $3 million over 7 years, and that they've actually saved more than that during that time.

jafs 4 years, 1 month ago

This is great!

They could also considering lowering the thermostats from 70-72 to 68-69 through the colder months, and cooling to 76-78 in hot ones.

Carol Bowen 4 years, 1 month ago

Yes, but why did they pay $440,000 to buy obvious advice?

jafs 4 years, 1 month ago

Let's hope they get more from that than these particular suggestions.

The plan has already saved over $3 million, so I imagine they're doing more than this.

Carol Bowen 4 years, 1 month ago

It takes a long time to bring the temperature up in large buildings. The extra surge every morning would defeat the purpose.

weeslicket 4 years, 1 month ago

actually, they do. and have been doing so for some time. and, rightfully so.

parrothead8 4 years, 1 month ago

Educating children is such a stupid idea, isn't it? And figuring out a way to save millions of dollars is just plain moronic.

Shardwurm 4 years, 1 month ago

lol

We all know that throwing more money at the Education Industry is the right answer.

Afterall we've spent countless billions on the 'War on Poverty' that was declared in the mid 60s and look where that's gotten us.

Education at all levels is the biggest scam on the planet. If you don't know that then you're the one who is a fool.

Shardwurm 4 years, 1 month ago

P.S. - this shouldn't be news like we should pat them on the back. This should have been done for the last 30 years. If it hasn't it's another example of the fraud, waste, and abuse that our education system is rife with. In fact, if it hasn't been done until now people should be fired.

Scott Morgan 4 years, 1 month ago

Yes yes yes, another attempt at common sense in Larryville. A tip o hat.

Then again.

Of course those who see schools being run by the union really understand.

It starts with a mysterious mafia guy living in the Holliday Inn on McDonald Street. This guy is a member of the West Kansas group who makes money on everything we do in Lawrence.

There is a switch for instance which controls all public buildings. Big under the table money in this game.

Back in the good old days union thugs under the mafia would leave the lights on all night. Making sure the North Shore West Kansas Jersey group who has a wink wink wink part ownership in Westar makes 1200 bucks. Divide this 1200 bucks over 20 jobs, well you have some real money being made.

After the payoffs, the NEA receives $3.28 in kickbacks.

mom_of_three 4 years, 1 month ago

When I was a kid, the schools would select days or a week to set the thermostats lower to save money. I remember notes being sent to advise us to bundle up a little more, like extra shirts, sweaters or light jackets. I remember it happening once or so a year.

weeslicket 4 years, 1 month ago

i also tell my kids that (the importance of bundling in layered clothing).
especially on brisk days, when they might feel uncomfortable at their recess. i also send notes to home. phone calls. conferences. etc.

sometimes, the notes don't really make it home. they might be left behind, lost in a clutter, maybe delivered and then discarded. read. not read. etc. and sometimes, kids really just don't have winter clothing.

and i will also add, that this event happens more than "once or so a year", and it's never "an announced event". it just happens. and you hope to get through it.

as for myself, i'm far less concerned with refrigerators in the rooms, as i am concerned with clothing resources for students and families.

i am more than willing to part company with the refrigerator unit which does not exist in my room, for a clothing room in my building. that's an excellent trade.

weeslicket 4 years, 1 month ago

ibid:

weeslicket (anonymous) replies… “We have over 600 classrooms districtwide, and over half have refrigerators,” said John Geist, the district’s supervisor for building support services.

really people. this is just a kooky statement.

easy test: 1. walk through any public school tomorrow (after checking in with the office) 2. walk about a bit. (consider a student escort) 3. but mostly consider: does every other room (half of them, 50%, something more than 300 classrooms generally) actually contain a refrigerator? 4. check back in with the office folks and go home. 5. learn to recognize kooky talk when it spits in your eye. 6. practice mixing metaphors. just for your own kooky fun.

November 23, 2010 at 9:53 p.m

weeslicket 4 years, 1 month ago

oh silly me. i forgot all about the usd497 admin infallibility principle.

bwaaaa... haa... haaaa

BigPrune 4 years, 1 month ago

How much money does the school district waste in utilities for the weekly half day Wednesday? If there are 20 teachers in a school, it seems ridiculous heating or cooling each individual empty classroom while the teacher "collaborates." How much money does the average family lose by abiding by the school district's inconvenient as hell policy?

bearded_gnome 4 years, 1 month ago

Add in the benefits of turning off lights and unplugging power-sucking appliances, and the relatively few changes will make a difference when the district’s monthly power bills arrive. Last year the district spent $320,000 on utilities in November and December, a total that would have been about 3 percent higher had the conservation initiative not been in place.

---figures do not include: costs of developing and formalizing policies to enact; cost of employee/hours to make all the power savings control changes; potential maintenance costs of radical fluctuations in systems; costs of evaluation of outcomes; and costs of PR to publicize that they're saving millions of bucks!

factor those in, still 3.6 megabucks?

and indeed, some of this, why is it news? why wasn't this going on before?


fridge in the classroom? is that for the teacher's cool fizzy gin?

didn't have no refridgeratos [see above] when I wuz'a cumin' up.

happyscriv 4 years ago

I'm glad they are saving some money by doing those things. Here is a suggestion from where I stand. Turn off the lights at night. I can see South Junior High from my house and it's always lit up like there should be people in there. Shut the lights off...duh. (and if they are the ones that stay on...change them)

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