Monday, February 4, 2013
ETCA Helps Each School in the District with a Special Energy Project
With the help of grants from NEED (National Energy Education Development), the district was able to purchase one Vending Miser for each school in the district. A Vending Miser (VM) simply monitors the temperature of the drinks in a vending machine and shuts off the compressor and light when the infrared sensor doesn't "see" anyone in the area. If no one shows up for a while, such as on a weekend, the compressor comes back on once the drinks reach 41 degrees F. These devices save between 30 and 46 percent per machine in electricity costs. One of the most beneficial aspects of this project was that the district's "energy hog" was located. The drink machine at John Adair Intermediate was faulty, i.e. the compressor was NEVER shutting off. You see, all drink machines have a compressor cycle and they are not supposed to run all the time! After several two-week plug load studies, with the help of Mr. Turner's science class, it was determined that the Vending Miser would save the district over $450 per year! Students at each school charted the kilowatt-hour usage of their school's machine for two weeks. Then the students helped the ETCA students from the High School install the Vending Miser. Then another two-week plug load study was conducted and that data was charted on the same poster. Then at the end of the 4-5 week period, the ETCA visited each class and performed calculations with them demonstrating how math is used in real-world problem solving! We learned that the location of the machine is a huge factor when it comes to potential savings. If the machine is in a high-traffic area, the savings are not as big as the savings on a machine in a very low-traffic area. Thus, the payback time on a Vending Miser varied from 0.65 year to 1.5 years. Nonetheless, the school district gets to keep the Vending Misers and the students who participated had fun and hopefully learned a little about energy and the calculation of savings over time!