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Fonda-Fultonville schools could save $74K in energy costs, audit shows

Fonda-Fultonville schools could save $74K in energy costs, audit shows

New light bulbs, sensors and solar panels are among several recommendations for saving roughly $74,5

New light bulbs, sensors and solar panels are among several recommendations for saving roughly $74,500 in annual energy costs for the Fonda-Fultonville Central School District.

District buildings were analyzed last year to determine the feasibility of an energy conservation project under the New York Power Authority’s Energy Services Program, and NYPA consultants PB Power of New York City are suggesting $1.3 million in upgrades and new equipment.

Superintendent James Hoffman said some of the suggestions appear economical because the energy savings in some cases would pay for the work over the course of several years.

But in other situations — like a proposal to install solar panels — the cost savings do not appear worth pursuing, Hoffman said.

According to the report, issued in December, the district could save $37,719 annually by retrofitting fixtures and replacing fluorescent light bulbs with more energy-efficient ones.

Along with adding occupancy sensors in classrooms and bathrooms to turn the lights on when the rooms are in use, the cost of lighting improvements is estimated around $285,500.

The difference between the cost of the project and the amount of energy it would save, called “payback,” estimates that lighting upgrades would pay for themselves in 7.6 years.

A suggestion to install solar panels on the roof of the auditorium, however, appears to be a costly idea.

Drawing energy from the sun with a 55 kilowatt system could yield $6,939 in annual savings.

But it would cost about $667,550 to install the panels, so it would take more than 96 years for the energy savings to make up the cost of the project.

“The simpler [cost-saving measures] seem to provide the best payback,” Hoffman said.

Other suggestions in the report are as follows:

Replacing four heating, ventilation and air-conditioning units on the high school roof would cost $86,900, but at an annual estimated savings of $1,200, it would take more than 72 years for payback, according to the report.

Water heaters in the district’s three kitchens are currently electric, and changing them to on-demand gas-fired units could yield an estimated $11,500 a year in savings, according to the report. Replacing the three units would cost roughly $93,800, with a payback period of about eight years.

In the elementary school, replacing the current hot water heater with a gas-fired boiler, storage tank and pumps would cost about $38,200 and save $5,100 annually, resulting in a 7.4-year payback period, according to the report.

Board of Education member Rodney Simonds said the information will be useful in the event any federal stimulus money is to be directed toward energy savings.

“There are some interesting things in that report that we will take into consideration,” Simonds said.

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