Louisburg students enlightened by project where they discovered how to save district money on energy

LOUISBURG, Kan. -- Four Louisburg High School students have discovered a way to save the school district thousands of dollars each year. Their energy project was a true energy audit. The students did the work of professionals, something that industry experts say could cost as much as $15,000.

Senior Garrett Mills and junior Alex Miller are two of four students who just wrapped up an energy enrichment program at the high school. For six weeks, they met with a team of three advisers before school to gear up for their energy audit.

The final element of the project involved the team walking around the district counting bulbs.

"When we went around and counted all the light bulbs and saw just how much energy the school really uses, and seeing how much it would affect the school district, was really cool," Miller said.

They found through their calculations that if the entire district switched to LED bulbs, the district would save big time.

"The money they would save on paying electricity and labor and cost to replace the bulbs adds up to be about $12,000 a year," Mills said.

"So at first blush, you would take a look at it and say, 'wow, it's real easy, it would be a no brainer to go with the older technology,'" Tommy Anderson said.

Anderson is a parent at the school and served as an adviser for this project. He has an energy background, and was able to provide some much-needed insight for the students.

He says it would cost the district upwards of $40,000 to replace all the current halogen bulbs, which sounds like a lot, but he says the district would break even within three-to-four years and then start saving.

"It was really cool to be able to take skills that I learned from that and be able to translate it into something in the real world," Mills said.

The students will now present their findings and recommendations to the board of education to see if their plan is considered. Mills says he plans to be a software developer for NASA, and Miller plans to become an engineer.