Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Saving energy, expending energy

At work, we've been working hard to turn the wick down on our utility bills.  It appears to be working.

Part of what made such a big difference was receiving a large and welcome donation from a supporter.  Now usually a donation is in the form of a check, and that's great.  Sometimes however, the donation takes the form of goods.  Sometimes those donations fall a little flat - do we really need this many admittedly cute hand-knitted wool hats?

Not this time.  This guy's donation was off the charts.  Several boxes of Sylvania fluorescent tubes in the new and relatively unnoticed 25-watt size.  Occupancy sensors.  LED bulbs that, among other things, are rated for about double my very (very) best incandescent bulbs can do.  Am I installing those in the very peak of the chapel?  Oh yes.  I hate changing those bulbs, and if these LED floodlights last even half as long as their package copy says, I won't have to think about them again until 2015.

So what I have here is over $3000 worth of lighting products.  The fluorescent tubes are hard to come by, and not carried by the vendors that I have accounts with which makes them even tougher to acquire for work.  I always knew they'd make a tangible dent if I could just get hold of them.  And now here they are.

In their first month, our utility bill took a dip.  In spite of our electric rate going up 10% over the same period last year, our bill went down 10% due to decreased usage.  That's some serious progress.  And that was the first month, when I hadn't gotten everything installed.

The second month, more stuff is installed.  Not all of it, still - there's a lot of equipment and consumables here, it's a big job and some of it I've gotten done with volunteer crews - but we're getting closer.  In the first month our dollar savings was $1800.  In the second month, $2200.

Not bad by any stretch.  I've never seen our utility bill go down from one year to the next.  In two months, it's dropped like a stone.

It just takes an awful lot of work to make it happen.  Chapel lights, like I said, require a lift.  Thirty-five feet or more from floor to peak, those lights aren't something you just reach up and grab.  Fortunately this time another volunteer crew was installing some audio-visual gear and brought their own scissor lift.  Hey presto, job's done and I didn't die of vertigo.

In one room there's 192 fluorescent tubes to replace.  I counted.  In the dining room, another 158.  In another room, 96.  Each tube replaced represents a 7-watt savings over the old installation.  That represents over 3000 watts of electricity we're not using anymore and if you don't think that's much, well, maybe it isn't in the grand scheme of things.  But every hour we can avoid that 3000 watts is an hour we save about 45 cents.  There's over 600 hours in a month, and some of those lights are on all the time.  Getting the message across about turning lights off has made a big difference too, and setback thermostats.  It's finally all coming together.  It's take a huge effort on the parts of way more than just me, but it's finally coming together.

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