Eastern Kentucky PRIDE

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Russell County Middle School modifies vending machines to save energy

Russell County Middle School Principal Tonya Adams and teacher Jean Clement

Russell County Middle School Principal Tonya Adams and teacher Jean Clement accepted the PRIDE Environmental Education Project of the Month Award for the school’s Vending Miser Project.

Russell County Middle School won the PRIDE Environmental Education Project of the Month Award for modifying the school’s vending machines to use less energy.

The school’s five refrigerated vending machines now power down when there is no motion nearby, thanks to the Vending Miser devices installed on each machine.

A Vending Miser uses a wall-mounted sensor to monitor room occupancy and temperature, and it powers down the vending machine if 15 minutes pass with no pedestrian traffic. The device powers up the vending machine when people return or at regular intervals to keep the contents cold, according to the product description at www.vendingmiser.com.

RCMS students tracked the amount of electricity used by three vending machines before and after the Vending Misers were installed. All three machines used less energy due to the Vending Misers. The drop in power usage per machine ranged from 31 percent to 71 percent — which translated into a daily savings in electricity costs of $0.25 to $0.82 per machine.

The school used a NEED grant to buy the first Vending Miser in 2010. Then, the school bought four more, at a cost of $139.40 each, with a 2011-2012 PRIDE grant.

RCMS students installed the Vending Miser devices, collected data about the energy used by the vending machines, calculated the energy cost comparisons and helped present their findings in data tables.

“We commend the school for using this innovative technology, which has proven its worth while providing a great hands-on lesson for students,” said PRIDE’s Mark Davis, who presented the award.

“The savings tracked by the students would add up to a $530 cut in the school’s electricity bill annually, if the machines were operated year-round,” Davis said. “That means the devices will pay for themselves in just over a year.”

“This is an affordable way to make existing equipment more energy efficient, which is good for the school’s bottom line and for our environment,” Davis said.

“Thanks to the students’ research, we know that the devices really work and could be useful to anyone who has a vending machine,” Davis added. “It will cut your energy costs and extend the life of your machine.”

The award was accepted by Principal Tonya Adams and teacher Jean Clement, the teacher who co-sponsors the school’s PRIDE Club. Her co-sponsor is Jennifer Hardwick of the Russell County Conservation District. The service-oriented club explores why and how to care for the environment.

The PRIDE Environmental Education Project of the Month program rewards creative, effective ways of promoting environmental awareness and stewardship.

“We give awards to thank people and to showcase the great things going on in our region, so please contact us if you want to nominate a person, school, business or organization that is helping our environment or inspiring others to care for nature,” Davis said. “Our toll-free number is 888-577-4339, or you can contact us through our web site.”

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