Use less. Get more.
That’s how Phil Cotharin, temperature controls mechanic/energy
management specialist, is helping Wesleyan save thousands a year by
slashing energy usage. In an agreement finalized February 17,
Connecticut Light & Power Company has agreed to pay Wesleyan a $27,450
incentive for keeping energy usage down.
Wesleyan uses less energy, CLPC can produce less energy, and it won’t have
to build another power plant to service the community,” Cotharin says from
his office, located in the basement of the Exley Science Center.
Cotharin started researching ways to lower energy cost last year by running
an energy audit on the east side of Olin Memorial Library. The audit
measured kilowatts used by a single air handling unit, which moves and
conditions the air in the building.
found is that the unit was running at 80 percent of its efficiency 24 hours
a day,” Cotharin says. “So I figured, after midnight, why don’t we bring it
down to 40 percent and have it running back at 80 percent at 7 in the
formula conserves energy, but has little effect on the library’s
simple idea has opened up many complex energy studies campus-wide. Cotharin
is now devoting his career to finding ways to cut energy costs in all campus
feasible to say that, in five years, Wesleyan could save half-a-million
dollars a year if we apply this formula to all buildings,” Cotharin says.
“It’s my goal and I don’t see why this is not obtainable.”
numbers are already speaking for themselves. Cotharin discovered that the
Exley Science Center will save $21,478 a year on its electric bill by
running air units 1,584 fewer hours a year. Normally, the 13 air handling
units would run 24 hours a day.
should we run these things at a full work load when people aren’t inside,
using the building,” Cotharin says. “Any piece of electrical equipment needs
to be questioned. Do I need to leave that on or can I shut it off. It will
all add up in the end.”
Cotharin encourages the installations of high-tech variable frequency drives
(VFDs), which control air handling units by varying electric motor speed,
significantly reducing energy waste. Most of Wesleyan’s building are
equipped with pneumatic motor driven systems, set to operate at full speed,
24 hours a day.
Hall-Atwater, the Science Library, the Center for Fine Arts’ dance studios,
Cinema Archives, Fisk Hall, the Center for Film Studies and the Freeman
Athletic Center are heated and cooled with VDF systems.
Although these controls are pricey, they generate tangible benefits quickly.
The Science Center’s units will pay for themselves in savings within the
next three years.
one just celebrated its one month birthday,” Cotharin says, patting the side
of a new unit in the basement of the science center. “This is
state-of-the-art energy management.”
Cotharin and other employees of the Physical Plant can access climate
control data of any building on campus 24 hours a day by computer. An
energy-control program features schematics of every floor of every building,
and can pin-point temperatures of any room at any time.
get a call from Hall-Atwater and they say room 140 is too hot, so I just
look on here,” Cotharin says, clicking on a floor plan of Hall-Atwater. “I
see that it is 76 degrees and the heating vent’s valve is closed, so I know
there is a problem there. The data gathering information of this program is
phenomenal. It’s just an invaluable piece of equipment.”
Cotharin and Gene Payne, heating and ventilation air conditioning utility
mechanic, say all Wesleyan employees and students can do their part to
conserve energy. By simply setting a building’s summer temperature at 76
degrees rather than 74 degrees on a 90-degree summer day, energy use is
come here and work, but don’t tend to think about these things,” Payne says.
and Payne are big supporters of the new Fauver Field Residence Complex, due
to open in Fall 2005. Students currently housed in the approximately
140 wood-framed homes near campus are wasting the most energy.
of these students are here to get an education and don’t think about things
like conserving energy, and they won’t until they’re paying the bills out of
their back pocket,” Payne says. “Wesleyan has such a diverse group of people
from all different places and they’re not accustomed to New England
climates, and they’ll turn their heat up to 76 or higher all winter. What a
waste of energy.”
Cotharin says everyone on campus should be most aware of their energy usage
during August and September when Wesleyan reaches its peak
kilowatt demand. CLPC will issue a demand charge for this usage, in addition
to a monthly service charge and kilowatt-per-hour energy charge.
have a kilowatt demand level of 3.1 and we get a heat wave and everyone
turns on their air conditioning and everything is sucking energy, our demand
level might go up to 3.7 and we’ll get very high bills,” Cotharin says. “The
whole target of my job is to keep us from going above that number and
keeping Wesleyan’s total kilowatt usage down.”
Olivia Bartlett, The Wesleyan Connection
Ways to Save
temperature controls mechanic/energy management specialist, advises
Wesleyan students and employees to save energy where they can. Students
and employees can contact Physical Plant at 685-3400 with any
energy-saving suggestions, or to report any energy-wasting appliances
(i.e. leaks or running toilets). “We’re not working or living in these
places, so if we don’t know about it, we can’t fix it,” Cotharin says.
Here are some of Cotharin’s suggestions:
Turn off lights when out of the office
Turn off computer monitors and shut down laptops
Use less hot water
Don’t use electric fans or space heaters
Shut coolers off during weekends and breaks
Set a reasonable work environment temperature
Dress warmer or cooler to rely less on heating and air conditioning
Turn fume hoods off in science center when not in use
Turn of lights
Install energy efficient light bulbs
Use electrical timers that shut lights off automatically
Keep windows shut and locked during cold months
Install water-saving shower heads in homes
Report any dripping faucets or running toilets
Turn off refrigerators and coolers during breaks
Have housemates agree on reasonable temperature