Turn off outside lights during the day. Make sure furniture doesn't block heating vents. Shut off heat when building is not in use. Don't use lights when there is plenty of natural light from windows.
Simple, no-cost fixes like these seem rather obvious things to do. But as an inspection of Utah schools showed, they are not always being done, even though they could save school districts millions of dollars a year in utility bills.At a recent energy conservation meeting for school officials, it was reported that Utah schools could cut as much as $6.5 million from the $32 million they paid in utility bills the past school year. That's a lot of money for just using common sense.
Lowering the thermostat and turning off lights were popular responses in the energy crisis of the early 1970s, but that sense of conservation faded over the years into more comfortable, yet wasteful, practices. In today's atmosphere of higher energy prices, it's time to bring back more of that energy-saving awareness.
Not everybody remembers to be energy conscious in a school building, but it is amazing how quickly costs can be cut if there are some incentives for saving on utility bills.
For example, last year, the Weber School District offered to give back to individual schools 10 percent of anything they saved on utility costs. In that first year, there was a 4 percent drop in the district's annual $2 million utility bill.
In Philadelphia seven years ago, the school district offered an even bigger bonus of 40 percent of anything saved - and the individual school gets to decide how the money is spent. In the first year, utility costs were slashed by 11 percent and the figure has been around 20 percent the past couple of years.
Similar incentives ought to be offered in every Utah school district. After all, there's nothing to lose by trying and perhaps a lot to gain.
Among the lessons to be learned in Utah schools, let's teach some simple arithmetic: Subtracting energy costs not only produces lower utility bills, but also can add up to extra money for the school.
These aren't bad ideas for the home, either.