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Schools could be saving money, energy

POSTED: October 23, 2007 5:00 a.m.

The Effingham County Board of Education is going to conserve energy and save money — and a lot of both of them.

School board members approved a contract with Energy Education, Inc., at their meeting last week. According to Superintendent Randy Shearouse, the pact could result in savings of $5 million over 10 years. The deal with Energy Education is for four years, and the contract is renewable.

“Our power bills cost the district a lot of money,” Shearouse said. “If we can save that money and put it to construction, that would be a big help. Think about what we could do with that $5 million. If we continue to grow, that could grow larger.”

School board officials said they checked into Energy Education’s references.

“Most were positive,” Shearouse said of the comments he received from other school systems that use the system. “They felt it was worthwhile.”

Said Chairwoman Vera Jones: “Whenever I saw a negative comment, it was countered by a positive remark.”

Energy Education provides a computer program that adjusts the temperature in schools so that the air or heat isn’t running inefficiently when the buildings aren’t in use, especially during long breaks. It also will try, with the school system’s help, to get school personnel to think about energy conservation.

The air conditioning can’t be turned off during summer when the buildings are unoccupied, school officials said, so that mold doesn’t start and grow.

“That could be a problem,” school board member Lamar Allen said.

Shearouse said one of the things the program will look at is if a classroom is unoccupied and the temperature in it is between 60-65 degrees.

“This would be a motivating factor if we could get money back to the schools to save energy,” he said.

The school system looked at a similar program a couple of years ago, Shearouse said, but couldn’t do it on its own.

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