GOSHEN -- If Goshen College still used energy the way it did in 1991, it would be paying about $1,140,000 in energy costs for the 2009-10 school year.
But because of a series of changes -- switching to energy-efficient light bulbs, turning off heat in classrooms while they aren't being used and modifying the hot water temperatures based on the temperatures outdoors -- the school will pay about $740,000 in utility costs for the school year, a savings of about $400,000 in one year, said Glenn Gilbert, sustainability coordinator and utilities manager for the college.
Gilbert and Gordon Moore, vice president of McCormick Motors in Nappanee, shared strategies for saving energy -- and therefore, money -- at Tuesday's Afternoon Sabbatical, "Making Cents of Energy," at Goshen College.
Gilbert said Goshen College implemented a computerized energy management system about 20 years ago, and there are now more than 700 embedded computerized controllers on campus. Even though the college has added many buildings and grown substantially in size, it's using about the same amount of electricity as it was in 1993.
While he said it would be nice to be able to say that the primary reason for paying so much attention to the school's energy consumption is to preserve the environment, he said the driving factor is money.
"The most compelling reason has always been to reduce the amount of energy consumption to save money," Gilbert said.
At Goshen College, timers and motion detectors turn off lights in unused rooms, and a computer system can be programmed to turn off heating and cooling when classes aren't scheduled in rooms. The school also uses energy-efficient light bulbs.
Moore said he started researching energy efficiency for his company for three main reasons. The first was to eliminate liabilities. He said that before he worked at the company, it was fined for improperly disposing of oil. McCormick Motors, along with other companies, had hired someone who had a license, but he did it incorrectly anyway. Therefore, he said his first motivation was to make sure nothing like that happened again.
He also wanted to reduce expenses and present a positive public image, he said.
McCormick Motors added insulation and programmable thermostats and switched to energy-efficient light bulbs. The changes resulted in a huge decrease in natural gas consumption and a 99 percent reduction in liquid waste.
"This is not something we did overnight," Moore said. "This is a decade's worth of effort."
However, he found that he still needed to reduce the company's use of electricity. He turned to a state grant program that provides money for energy efficiency projects. Since the grant required an education component, Moore partnered with Goshen College's Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center, and students helped him come up with nine new conservation initiatives. One of those initiatives alone reduced electricity use by 14 percent, he said.
The students also encouraged him to look into generating his own energy, so he invested in solar panels. He said he's on pace to reduce his electricity consumption by 20 percent in 2010, and hopes to cut it by 50 percent by 2020.
Moore estimated he saves about $20,000 per year because of his energy projects.
Beyond the cost savings, Moore said his employees are happier, because the temperature is more comfortable, and they have better light to work in. He's also started up a benefits program for his employees, where the company will be 25 cents for every dollar spent on energy-efficient home improvement projects on employee's homes, up to $500.
Gilbert said that when natural gas prices skyrocketed after Hurricane Katrina, he visited with office managers and secretaries in each building and asked them what temperatures they'd be comfortable working in to save money. What he found, he said, is that people were willing to work in colder temperatures in the winter and hotter temperatures in the summer than he expected.
While cutting back on heating and cooling is a good way to save money in an office setting, Gilbert said it's important to get a consensus from the people who work in the office first.
"If people are not comfortable when they work, they're not productive," he said.
SIX WAYS YOU CAN SAVE ENERGY COSTS
Glenn and Gordon's top six ways to save energy costs in your home
* Lighting reduction and conversion: Turn lights off and use compact fluorescent bulbs.
* Window shades: Install shades, and if the room isn't being used, especially in the winter, pull them down.
* Insulation: Consider adding insulation to your home.
* Understand what you're using: Know your energy-usage habits so you can determine what's unnecessary and cut it.
* Scheduling occupancy: Heat and cool spaces only when you're using them.
* Behavior changes: Put on a sweater rather than turning up the heat and turn off the lights when you don't really need them.