Schools getting creative to save on energy costs
by Alan Reed -- areed@cadizrecord.com
Mar 08, 2006 | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With energy costs in an ever-steeper upward spiral, residents are not the only ones feeling a strain on their budgets. The Trigg County School District has been actively seeking new ways to save money.

Perhaps the most innovative way to stretch the District’s energy dollar is at the Bus Garage, where old natural gas heaters have been replaced with two new units, which burn either used motor oil, or cooking oil from the school cafeteria fryers.

Trigg County School Transportation Director Mark Harris showed off his new heaters, hanging from the ceiling proudly, explaining that just two were needed to fully heat the garage with waste oil. The older heaters used natural gas to warm the facility. Gas had to be purchased from local suppliers. “In addition to not having to pay for gas, we also had to pay a fee to transport and dispose of our waste motor oil.”

With no discernable foul odors from the new oil heaters installed in February, garage foreman David Lancaster, dressed in short-sleeves reported “They are doing a tremendous job, keeping us warm, and saving money.”

Other money saving equipment has been purchased for the Bus Depot as well. An oil filter crusher works like a large scale, hydraulic citrus juicer, pressing motor oil out of spent filters, rendering more fuel for the burners. The crushed filters can be discarded legally and responsibly as normal garbage, rather than requiring carting to and disposal in special facilities.

Prepared with financial figures at his office, was School Superintendent Tim McGinnis. His office has estimated that avoiding oil disposal fees, at $0.15 per gallon as well as filter disposal fees at $375 thee times a year could save, conservatively, he believed, about $1375 annually. The real savings, however, he believed would come from heating bills for the cavernous garage, with doors wide enough for buses to come and go unimpeded. “Our average heating bills for winter months, December, January, and February, is $1300 monthly, for that facility. If you factor in maybe half of November, and half of March, that adds up.”

McGinnis said that with the money saved, the $13,000 expenditure on two heaters would have paid for themselves in two and a half, to three years.

“My first question was ‘Are these things compliant with clean air regulations,’ and I was shown the specs. Everything looked good.”

Trigg Schools have not stopped with a couple of oil heaters at trimming costs. Converting the existing 44-bus, and 5-truck fleet to use biodiesel fuels in 2007 is also being scrutinized.

For the rest of this story, please see this week's edition of The Cadiz Record.
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