An Earth Month update from the MN GreenCorps desk:
We are now more than halfway through the GreenCorps service year! The main project in progress is looking at replacing an appliance on campus. Many of the appliances that are prime candidates for replacement are refrigerators or coolers. Using the kill-a-watt meters (available to borrow from the LSC Library) we have recorded energy use for a number of refrigerators on campus. Most of the refrigerators are pretty energy efficient but some of them were surprising for a couple of reasons. The maintenance break room and the Tutoring & Learning Center both have the same model of refrigerator in them. The fridge in the maintenance break room costs LSC $81.36 to operate every year. However the one in the maintenance break room costs more than twice to operate the one in the Tutoring & Learning Center which costs LSC only $33.72 to operate every year. This difference in energy use and operation cost makes the fridge in the maintenance break room a prime candidate for replacement.
Using this data as well as Energy Star energy usage estimates for new models we have calculated what is referred to as the payback period for the purchase of a new appliance. The basic calculation for this period begins by taking the annual operating cost for the current appliance and subtracting the expected annual operating cost of the new appliance. Next you take the purchase price of the new appliance and divide it by the energy savings, this number is how many years it will take for those energy savings to pay for the cost of the new appliance. For the purposes of our fridge replacement the payback period is just under 9 years. This is well within the useful life of a new fridge so this is another indicator that this fridge is a good one to replace. Many appliance replacements might not have the best payback period but many utilities including MN Power offer rebates for purchases of new appliances and even incentives for removing appliances like refrigerators.
There are some small updates on other GreenCorps projects as well. 3 vending machines have been removed from the main LSC campus, this leaves 3 more vending misers free to install on our satellite campus sites! The Green Office Challenge also continues. Since the last blog post 7 additional teams have completed the survey bringing the total number of teams surveyed to 12. The Sustainability Council has also distributed the smart power strips that it purchased back in February. Among the people who have tested them out the clear favorite seems to be the timer equipped model. Stay tuned for more updates through the remaining months of the service year!