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Weston Schools Save Energy, Bucks

"You forgot to shut the light off," a student says to a teacher at Hurlbutt Elementary School in Weston. The teacher obliges, with a bit of pride and a little embarrassment. But suggestions such as these have helped Hurlbutt reduce its energy consumption by 34 percent since last year, saving the district nearly $100,000.

"We far exceeded expectation this year," said Dave Lustberg , transportation coordinator and energy education specialist.

In 2009, Weston schools implemented an energy reduction program with the help of Energy Education, a consulting firm that works to save school districts money and extend the life of HVAC equipment. According to Lustberg, the firm guaranteed a savings of at least 10 percent the first year. The division as a whole reduced its cost by nearly 27 percent, with a net savings of $342,909.

"That's amazing, those statistics," said board member Dana Levin. The division consumed 1,320 fewer tons of carbon dioxide this year over last year, Lustberg said. The energy saved is equal to 237 cars taken off the road for one year or 33,751 new trees grown for 10 years.

The schools paid Energy Education a consulting fee of $190,800 for this year. Before factoring in that expense and other costs, the gross savings equaled $455,194. After three years of the firm's service, the fee is waived, Lustberg added.

Factor in utility rate reductions, and the gross savings increased to $572,959. The entire program was a joint effort of teachers, administrators, staff and students, Lustberg said.

The high school reduced its energy consumption by 22 percent – which is equal to $131,739 in savings – but was the worst performing building out of the six school-owned properties. The board of education building reduced its cost by 56 percent, but it is the smallest building.

What do you do in your house to save energy? Any tips for the schools?

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