Efficiency grant starts to pay off

Published 8:00 pm Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Lincoln County officials are starting to see the benefits of recent efforts to make government complex operations more energy efficient.

     In 2011, Lincoln County was one of more than 80 counties and municipalities across the state to get a federal grant to use toward becoming more energy efficient. The grant was made possible through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

     Lincoln County received $250,000 for use at the Lincoln County/Brookhaven Government Complex.

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     Grant-funded work replaced old light bulbs with ones that use less energy and saw installation of new digital thermostats to better control air conditioning and heating at the government complex. The work was completed in late May.

     The new light bulbs are smaller than the old bulbs, but are able to put out even more light and use less energy. Air conditioning can now be turned off overnight when no one is in the complex and be turned back on in the morning to heat or cool it to the desired temperature.

     Lincoln County Administrator David Fields said the improvements are paying off.

     When comparing this year’s energy bills to last, Fields said records show the government complex used $1,900 less energy from April to May, $1,794 less from May to June and $1,350 less from June to July.

     Fields estimated the savings over a 12-month period would be about $18,000. The money saved will be held and could be used for another project once enough builds up.

     “We’ll keep it in the buildings, grounds and maintenance funds,” said Fields.

     While the savings on electricity is good, Fields said they remain relatively small when everything is considered.

     “It’ll take a while to accumulate any savings that really matter, but every little bit helps,” he said.

     Overall, though, Fields said the grant has turned out to be helpful.

     “It was a good move for the county,” he said. “I think we’ll see more savings over time.”