Facility Dude


Town of Westport, CT Reduced Fuel Oil Costs by 35% with UtilityTrac Plus

By Emma Finch
Dec 31, 2012

Energy, Government, Case Studies, Energy Management

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Town of Westport, CT, has a population of 25,749 and contains 60 public buildings. Michael Frawley, Superintendent of Maintenance, was using spreadsheets to track utility spend but found it hard to understand how much was being spent on what commodities and in what buildings. He began using UtilityTrac Plus and now has a clear picture of what’s being spent where, and he’s done a project which lowered his fuel oil costs by 35%.

Here is their story:

We used to use spreadsheets to track our utility spending and it was very difficult to understand the trends and have a clear picture of where we might be spending too much money. We bought UtilityTrac Plus and I’ve been able to use the tool to get a handle on where and how much we’re spending. I look in the program daily and it gives me a good overall picture of how our buildings are doing and I can also quickly check individual buildings.

With UtilityTrac Plus, it’s very easy to enter your bill information each month. It’s really just a couple of clicks and you’re done. Our admin enters the bills and she flies through it. If I do it, it takes me seconds to do one, and I’m not a fast typer. It’s not a problem at all to enter our bill information into the system, and we have over 200 meters.

Our first priority was to figure out what each of our meters was tracking and where they were located. We have over 200 meters and they are scattered around our town. Using UtilityTrac Plus, we were able to understand what we had and we also found meters that no longer existed. We got those closed and removed from our accounts, which resulted in savings on our utility bills.

Once we got everything set up, we were able to start using the program to identify energy savings projects. I decided to change my parking lot lights from high pressure sodium lights to induction lights. Since these lights come on and go off on a timer, there were no outside variables to distort the savings from the project. In addition to this, I did a major HVAC upgrade at town hall. We’re beginning to see the positive impacts of these projects and UtilityTrac Plus allows us to measure and verify our savings.

One thing that surprised me when looking in UtilityTrac Plus was that our electric use at the public works center skyrocketed in the winter. This didn’t make sense to me; our spending should be higher in the summer. I discovered it was because we were plugging in block heaters for our trucks in the winter. This software helped us figure that out and look at ways to fix it. We ended up installing thermostats that would automatically shut off. It was a cheap fix and helped us save about $10,000, which is about 35% of our fuel oil costs.

In looking at the data in UtilityTrac Plus, we also noticed that our town hall had really high water usage which didn’t make any sense. After investigating, we realized it was because the IT department was using water-cooled air conditioning units for the servers there. The units were old and due to be replaced anyways, so we did away with them and got something different. The building’s water use decreased a lot after that. 

One feature I really like is the search. I can type in a building, account or meter and pull it up quickly. When I talk with the propane company, for instance, they know things by the account and I know it by the building. When I call them, it takes me half a second to pull up the building and find the account number. If someone calls me with a question about a building or account, I know what I’m talking about because it‘s so quick for me to pull up the information. When we’ve looked at doing solar projects, one of the first things we’re asked is to provide a year of utility bills. I can get this instantly and email it to them. There’s no flipping through paper files or asking the electric company for anything.

UtilityTrac Plus is very simple to use and it’s incredibly easy to enter and find the data you need. It’s a great tool and so much better than a spreadsheet.

Click the link below to download a .pdf version of the case study.


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