The Wrack

The Wrack is the Wells Reserve blog, our collective logbook on the web.

Energy Initiative: C-Change Part Two

Posted by | October 28, 2013

In my last post, I focused on the conversion part of our C-Change. Here I focus on our equally important conservation efforts.

Since we launched our ambitious energy initiative in early 2012, our yearly use of propane and heating oil has dropped 20 percent, from an average of 11,500 gallons before we started to 9,000 gallons today. At the same time, we have reduced electrical energy use from an annual average of 105,000 kilowatt-hours to 85,000 kilowatt-hours, a 22 percent reduction.

How did we achieve such dramatic cuts?

  1. High-efficiency water heater in basement of farmhouseSmarter Operations: We limited the use of public spaces (auditorium and library) to Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays between late December and the end of March, closing the buildings when not in use the other 4 days. As visitation drops off substantially during winter, we also closed our exhibit areas. We moved to a 4-day work week, with full-time staff working longer days or telecommuting. During temporary building closures, we turned down the heat and kept the lights off.
  2. Energy Efficiency: We began replacing inefficient appliances and equipment. For example, we replaced two fossil-fuel consuming water heaters and four energy-hogging refrigerators with new Energy Star models. We replaced old, inefficient light fixtures with efficient ones. And the staff was more mindful of shutting off lights and computers when not in use, even for relatively short periods.
  3. Heating System Alterations: We installed new thermostat controls in all of our buildings, allowing us to better regulate heat. We diligently monitored indoor temperatures and made regular adjustments to prevent energy waste. We also replaced an old, inefficient oil-fired boiler in one of our buildings with a modern energy efficient propane boiler.

While we have taken great strides over the past 18 months, our efforts will continue as our quest to conserve and convert is eternal. As energy-hogging equipment wears down, from lawn mowers to light bulbs, we will substitute energy efficient replacements. We will continue the transition to renewable energy sources while monitoring and streamlining our daily practices, leading by example to the greatest extent practical.

Annual electrical energy use declines from 105,000 kwh to 85,000 kwh between 2010 and 2013Conserving Electricity

We expect our electricity use to continue its decline over the short term, but then to increase toward FY 2017. The projected rise results from our plan to use renewable electrical energy instead of fossil fuels when heating our buildings during the "shoulder" months of April, May, September, and October. We may also have an on-site caretaker living in the Farmer's Cottage (currently unoccupied) by then.

Conserving Fossil Fuel

Annual fossil fuel use has already declined and is expected to continue to drop.We hope to reduce fossil fuel use by FY 2017 through continued conservation measures and a greater reliance on solar energy. If we are able to install additional photovoltaic systems, we will move to electric heat and reduce or eliminate the use of fossil fuels during spring and fall.

 

 

* C-Change is a term borrowed from Daniel Yergin’s book The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World.

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