Natural gas at high school yields big savings

In fiscal year 2015, Wilton High School was converted from oil heat to heat by natural gas, as part of the town’s natural gas expansion project with Eversource.
Wilton High School is the largest municipal building in Wilton, and the largest consumer of energy in town as well.
Using federal benchmarking software, Wilton’s Energy Commission determined “that the high school is saving the taxpayers of Wilton, on average, well more than $100,000 per year because of the switch to natural gas.”
Fiscal year 2014 was the final fiscal year before the high school was converted. “Although the price of oil dropped slightly, the brutal winter pushed the usage north of 100,000 gallons and the total cost to $315,080,” the Energy Commission said.
The school continued to burn oil until January 2015, but finished the fiscal year on natural gas, making its energy use in FY15 a mixture of both fuels. About 34,000 gallons of oil were burned for a cost of $104,000, and 66,000 units (100 cubic feet) of natural gas for a cost of $56,000.
The total cost of $160,000 “represents a massive savings of $155,000 over fiscal 2014 despite very similar degree days,” the Energy Commission said.
Fiscal year 2016 isn’t quite over, “but for heating purposes it effectively is,” the commission said, “and the cost savings are even more dramatic.”
So far, the school has burned 103,000 units of natural gas for a one-to-one cost of $103,000. The fiscal year ends June 30, so the final number shouldn’t be much different, especially with the weather nice enough not to have to heat the building.
That said, now that the school is heated 100% by natural gas, further savings have been achieved. The $103,000 spent fiscal year-to-date represents savings of $57,000 over fiscal year 2015.
Wilton High School is not the only building to have been converted from oil to natural gas through the natural gas expansion that took place in 2014 and 2015. Also converted were Middlebrook School, Cider Mill School and the recently renovated Comstock Community Center.
Energy usage numbers are not yet available for these facilities, but the town did receive two rebate checks from Eversource for the conversions of Middlebrook and Cider Mill.
For switching to gas at Middlebrook, the town was rebated $91,332. For switching at Cider Mill, it was rebated $110,778.
“These rebates are not just for switching to gas, but also for installing new, extremely high-efficiency boilers,” Director of Facilities and Energy Management Chris Burney told The Bulletin.
Burney said the town did not install new boilers at Wilton High School, only new burners, “so there is no rebate” there.
“We are still awaiting the rebate check for the new installation at the Comstock Community Center,” Burney said.