Energy sleuths find: Borough tax dollars keeping snow plows warm in garage

Princeton Packet
6 February 1980

Energy sleuths find:
Borough tax dollars keeping snow plows warm in garage

by Pam Hersh
Staff Writer

It was cold outside this weekend – high winds and 10 to 20 degree temperatures. But the snow plows, trucks and sweepers in Princeton’s borough garage were resting comfortably at 78 degrees.

“It boggles the mind that the borough, and therefore I as a taxpayer, is spending thousands of dollars to heat a snow plow, when my family, trying to conserve fuel, sits in 60 degree rooms,” said Councilman Robert McChesney.

Mr. McChesney on Sunday led a group of energy conservation experts from Princeton University through the Borough Hall, borough garage and the Harrison Street Firehouse in order to evaluate the fuel and electric use in the buildings.

FOR TWO HOURS. Dr. Robert Socolow, Dr. Gautam Dutt and three graduate students from Princeton University’s Center for Energy and Environmental studies looked at heating ducts, insulation, windows, vents, chimneys, thermostats, boilers and air conditioners. In addition, they recorded temperatures in all the rooms.

“Their findings reveal a pattern of energy wastefulness which goes far beyond my wildest imaginations,” said Mr. McChesney.

Although much of the waste results from structural defects requiring costly renovation, said the councilman, “I expect large monetary savings could be realized if the borough made a few simple adjustments, such as:
• Turn off the heat in the borough garage, a building used only for vehicle storage;

• Turn down the heat in the Harrison Street Firehouse when it is
‘not In use. The firehouse had large areas heated to 70 degrees; 40 degrees would be a sufficient temperature. The firehouse is used for monthly meetings and for a polling place once or twice a year.

• Turn down the heat in the municipal building on weekends. Most of the offices in the building were heated to 65 degrees, the federally recommended working day office temperature. The violations bureau office in the building was 75 degrees.

• Disconnect the municipal building’s fresh air circulation system, which brings cold air in, heats it up and then vents it out through the roof.

• Use more desk lamps in borough offices and fewer overhead lights. Currently the borough offices have no desk lamps.

• Remove the ballasts (start up switch for a bulb) from the fluorescent lights which have no bulbs. In Borough Hall, many bulbs had been removed
from the fluorescent lights but the ballasts remained in the light. The ballasts continue to use electricity even if the bulb is gone.

THE PRINCETON University scientists, who volunteered their time for the energy evaluation, and Councilman McChesney will be compiling a report detailing structural and policy changes which could lead to fuel and electricity savings, and therefore, tax dollar savings.

Mr. McChesney said he estimates the borough could ‘ easily cut its $20,000 fuel oil bill in half without any major rebuilding projects. Putting in some sophisticated heating controls and redoing may be expensive, but this and other costs would be more than paid for in the first two years of increased efficiency.”
Within the next week or two, Mr. McChesney will evaluate the other two firehouses and the library.

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