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Conserving energy = good stewardshipcomment (0)

April 16, 2009

By Bryan Gill

Energy conservation isn’t just about being environmentally friendly — it’s good stewardship.

That’s what Robert “Robin” White, product manager of marketing retail sales and development for Alabama Power, told those gathered at the Southern Baptist Camping Association conference, a national event held at Shocco Springs Baptist Conference Center in February that drew participants from 19 states.

By adding more green components — anything that reduces energy consumption — to your church or conference center’s buildings, you can not only be more energy efficient but also qualify for tax incentives, he said.

What can you do to make that happen? White offered these energy-
saving ideas:

► Retrofitting lights
“Over 35 percent of your building’s energy load is lighting,” White said. One way to save thousands of dollars is by converting existing light fixtures from T12 to T8 lights, he said.

“Retrofitting your lights pays for itself within one to three years,” White said. He noted that if you haven’t changed out your light fixtures in the past five years, then you probably have T12 systems. The type of system is indicated on the fluorescent tube. “It will either say T12 or T8,” White said.

► Compact fluorescent lighting

Changing incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescent ones is a great way to save money, White said. “These bulbs last longer and generate less heat.”

He also said to make sure you buy bulbs made by reliable brands. “The cheap ones are cheap for a reason,” he said.

► Natural lighting

Daylight harvesting is important, White said, so utilize windows and natural light as much as possible.

If you are building a new building, then you should install as many skylights, light tubes and windows as possible to maximize the use of natural light. White also noted that providing your workers with windows increases productivity, which also saves you money.

► Outdoor lighting
White advised not spending a lot of money for outdoor lighting unless you are in a high-crime area. If your streetlights are “behind the meter,” meaning you are responsible for the energy cost, then you can put them on a motion sensor or set them on a curfew switch.

“For example, you can wire all or half of your lights at the breaker to switch off at 10 p.m.,” he said, noting that you could also put motion sensors on your wall packs or floodlights.

► Dual infrared sensors
“If someone leaves a room, more than likely, the lights will be left on, especially in churches,” White said.

Installing sensors on your lights will result in a savings of 30 percent to 50 percent.

White said in an office or a rest room, you should use dual infrared sensors, noting that they detect heat and sound so the lights will go out if there are extended periods without movement.

► LED lighting
“LED lights use hardly any energy at all and produce little to no heat,” White said, adding that you can save 90 percent of energy costs with LED lights as compared to incandescent lights.

Use LED lighting for office or task lighting, spotlighting, emergency lights,     exit lights and lighting strips down walls or stairwells.

► Temperature

You may be wasting money if your church or conference center turns on all of the lights and thermostats at the same time, he said. Also kitchen equipment often gets turned on at the same time and is left on for hours before being used.

But this sudden increase of energy causes a spike in your rate. To avoid this, understand the rates in your area and how your usage habits can increase them, White said.

White had one comment about HVAC systems: “Heat pump water heaters are awesome.”

He explained that the condenser of a heat pump can serve as a cooling system for rooms without air conditioning. “It is like you get free air conditioning wherever you place the condenser because cool air is a byproduct of the heat pump.”

► Let others help
Companies such as General Electric will do an energy survey to show you ways to make your building more energy efficient. “Let them do the work for you,” White said.

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