March 19, 2013

School district saves thousands by turning off lights

By Carrie Dillard
Managing Editor

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — In the month of February alone, Laurel County Public School District saved $13,500 on electricity just by turning off the lights at night.

“One of the biggest impacts so far would have to be turning off lights, computers, smartboards and electrical items that are not needed,” said John McNeel, energy manager for Laurel County, Williamsburg and Corbin schools. “Since tracking and reporting began in October 2012, Laurel County has been able to reduce their electric bill by a total of $20,756.”

Buildings can earn an Energy Star certification just like a refrigerator. To be classified as Energy Star certified, they must earn a 75 or higher on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s)  1-100 energy performance scale, indicating that the facility performs better than at least 75 percent of similar buildings nationwide.

Bush Elementary School, Campground Elementary School and Laurel Day Treatment have each earned Energy Star certification for 2013. These schools use an average of 35 percent less energy than typical schools and also release 35 percent less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.  

“Many of us are taking steps to improve energy efficiency at home but may not realize that there are opportunities to save where we work,” Superintendent Doug Bennett said in a previous interview. “By making energy-efficient choices, we can reduce our energy use and save money while protecting the environment. This translates into more money to spend on resources that can help increase student learning.”

McNeel said two other schools, Hunter Hills and Hazel Green, are very close to earning their certification.  Hunter Hills has a score of 67 and Hazel Green has a score of 66.

McNeel described Laurel County school staff as “eager” to learn about the Energy Star program and how to save the district money.

“I’m giving advice, and they are developing new habits,” he said. “The savings have been quite impressive.”

For more information, contact McNeel at