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AUSTIN EDITION Austin schools conserve energy

By Roxana Orellana

rorellana@postbulletin.com

By the end of next month, the Austin school district will have completed its first quarter under an energy saving program.

Last year, the district implemented the Schools for Energy Efficiency program to reduce energy consumption and save money.

The district hopes to eventually reduce 10 percent of its energy use; saving the district $75,000.

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Changes have been made to lighting, temperature control, ventilation, scheduling, electrical equipment, water and swimming pools.

During the heating season, classroom thermostats are now set between 68 and 70 degrees. Most of the other rooms in the school are between 65 and 70 degrees.

During the air-conditioning season, thermostats are set between 76 and 78 degrees. Special consideration has been given to certain preschool and special education classrooms.

Temperatures are maintained 60 to 90 minutes before the start of classes and for 60 to 90 minutes after school ends.

Staff and students have been encouraged to dress appropriately for the season.

Lights in secondary buildings remain off until 90 minutes before school starts and are turned off again 90 minutes after school ends. Exceptions will be made for those areas used for activities. In elementary buildings, the lights will be turned off 30 minutes earlier after school.

After-school activities are now concentrated in specific areas. Computers and other electronics are shut down at night. During the summer, vending machines will be unplugged.

In this first year of the program, the district estimates it will save at least $7,200. Savings in the second year should exceed $22,000.

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Results for the first quarter of the program will be available at the end of March.

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