When discussing the “low hanging fruit” schools can address in energy reduction, one hot topic is often that faculty and staff are bringing personal items such as heaters, refrigerators, special lighting or cooking appliances into their classrooms and offices. It is easy for someone who wants some creature comforts to bring in a few items here or there, but there are consequences that those personnel may not think of: costs, safety and cleanliness.
We’ll focus here on costs, but as a side note, your building occupants need to realize that some appliances are fire hazards (I’m watching you teachers that brought in woks) and some appliances can easily attract mold, dust and pests if not properly cleaned…and sorry, that is not the job of facility services to clean and fix your personal fridge
What happens in a building with several occupants? There are the possibilities of several personal appliances entering the buildings that begin to add up, and usually these are old appliances, not the newer ENERGY STAR rated items. So, how do you calculate the costs?
This handy website, http://www.energysaver.gov, gives the basics of what goes into a calculation and example wattages for items such as aquariums, radios, fans, portable heaters, toaster and other small items that make their way onto campuses.
So how much money is being lost in personal appliances in classrooms? If I were to calculate a portable heater, I’d probably see an expenditure of at least $9 a year, which sounds fine…until I consider how many are in my buildings. Let’s take 5 items into a conservative example:
How many books would that $25,000 have bought? Would that have added or have saved a job?
So, how do you curb this? First, have a solid energy policy and have staff agree to it. What that policy states is up to you. Some schools say no appliances, while other schools allow staff to pay a stipend to have those appliances to reduce impacts on the budget. The decision is up to you.