In the new energy saving frontier, focus is often given only to the newest of inventions, ideas, and gadgets, but sometimes all you need is a little diligence and a good old Post-It note to do the job. The Mount Sinai School District on Long Island has managed to save $350,000 in utility bills through behavior changing activities. The school district has appointed an official energy manager who polices the schools and looks for people out of the energy line. He helps people to save energy by posting sticky note reminders on light switches and electronics that say “When not in use, turn off the juice” and tickets those breaking the rules. Mount Sinai has managed, through this initiative and others, to reduce their energy costs 30 percent from 2007 levels.
At Mount Sinai, the energy cop is Assistant High School Principle, Chris Heil, who sometimes arrives at schools at 4 a.m. to make sure the custodial staff has turned off all of the lights and unnecessary equipment. “I’m kind of like the cop who walks around and makes sure people are doing what they’re supposed to be doing,” Mr. Heil told The New York Times. “As soon as you take me away, people will start their bad habits again.”
Across New York and New Jersey, schools are pushing to reduce energy costs in a world where budgets are already tight. Heil once encountered a teacher who refused to turn off his classroom computers overnight. Heil responded by sending an e-mail to the teacher detailing how much money he was wasting in energy costs and threatened to send it to the superintendent — the teacher then decided to comply with the rules.
At schools in Yonkers, cutting energy costs has allowed the district to afford $18 million in new boilers, windows and other improvements that they wouldn’t have been able to install otherwise. The new improvements should help them save even more cash in utility bills that can hopefully help provide a top notch education to the students in those schools.
In Holmdel Township in New Jersey, they’ve halved their utility bills since 2009 bringing them down from $2 million to $1 million. William Balicki, who acts as Holmdel’s energy manager, was the brains behind the operation making sure lights were turned off and thermostats kept in check. Balicki often opted to help nudge people into energy savings instead of allowing gadgets like motion detectors to do it for him. “This is pretty much a people-based program. It’s changing behavior,” he told the New York Times.