Have you heard the term “low-hanging fruit”? Generally, it’s used to describe something that is easy to reach and enjoy.
Imagine you are sitting on a synagogue or school board, and the building/ house committee brought the following proposal forward: “If you follow our recommendation to change a set of bulbs, we can cut our operating costs for the affected part of the building by 78 per cent.” How do you probe that number? What is the impact on overall costs? Is 78 per cent a real number?
Last month, I posed a question as to whether you know what is driving your organization’s operational costs when it comes to energy. This month, we will begin to work through an exercise to determine how you can make a quantitative and informed decision about changing equipment to reduce the amount of energy consumed.
For many years, lighting has been considered the low-hanging fruit of electricity consumption. At a synagogue or school, the number of unique light-bulb types is generally larger than at home. In addition to incandescent bulbs, the building will likely have a mix of fluorescent, halogen, older generation compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) and other types of bulbs.
Few organizations in our community have an inventory of their electrical lights organized in some easy to analyze format, for example, by room or within a heating/ cooling zone. Even fewer know the schedule of occupancy of those rooms or zones. Why is this important? Simple math!
Assuming a room has 100 90-watt halogen floodlights, it consumes nine kilowatt hours for every hour the lights are on. If the consumption charge is 10 cents per kilowatt hour, you are paying 90 cents for every hour the lights are left on. If your lights in the room are on for six hours each day, the room costs you $5.40 a day to operate and $1,971 for the year.
What if you now replaced the 90-watt bulb with a 20-watt bulb? Under the same assumptions, two kilowatt hours times $.10 cents per kilowatt hour times six hours costs $1.20 to operate per day and $438 per year. This reduces operating costs by 78 per cent.
If you were a member of the board, or a fee-paying member of the synagogue, or a tuition-paying parent of a Jewish day school, and keep seeing fee increases attributed to increased operating costs, what additional questions would you be asking to ensure that the 78 per cent saving is real?
This example and others will be discussed at an upcoming meeting to be called by David Sadowski, executive vice-president of the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, responsible for Jewish community properties. The meeting will bring schools and synagogues together to review best practices in energy management and conservation, share success stories, and establish a base of information on energy consumption that would help community organizations get a handle on operational expense.