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Idaho Falls “Switch your Thinking” Program
Is this a duck, or a rabbit?

What does this have to do with the electrical industry? Look – it’s pretty simple.

In this day and age, coming up with novel solutions to difficult problems is absolutely essential. Thinking of different ways to look at job site, or different ways to save money, can mean either financial hardship, or economic windfall.

That’s why we sent Dominic Giarratano up to Idaho Falls, Idaho. He got a first-hand glimpse at how NECA contractor Wheeler Electric is helping the city “Switch Their Thinking.”

Changing the way you look at a problem can mean the difference between staying within your budget, or closing the doors.

So when Idaho School District 91 needed someone to come in and change the way they were looking at their energy usage, Wheeler Electric came to the plate with an idea.
Save money on energy usage to free up money for the most important thing about education – the kids.

Margaret Wimborne, coordinator of communications, Idaho Falls School District 91
“In these times of tight budgets, any money that we can free up from things like utilities we can then divert directly to the classrooms where we need the money.”

Josh Wheeler, service manager, Wheeler Electric
“It’s the K-12 lighting retrofit project for the state of Idaho. We’re working with local utility companies to get incentive paybacks for the state, for installing that higher efficiency lighting.”

Lighting retrofits, as we’ve discussed with you before, are easy, no-nonsense solutions to very real budget problems. Any NECA-IBEW contractor around can do them – and the bang for your buck you get makes it well worth it, and not just because of the money that is saved.

Margaret Wimborne, Coordinator of Communications, Idaho Falls School District 91
“The majority of our buildings are more than 50 years old, so the ballasts are very old. And it definitely causes some distractions in the classrooms.”

Jeff Wheeler, VP, Wheeler Electric
“In several of the projects, they’re actually just installing a brand new light fixture, one for one. And in other cases, they’re just installing a retrofit kit. The new lighting, the retrofits will provide a brighter light and it will be more energy efficient, which is what we’re all after.”

Derek Wood, Apprentice, Local 449
“We come in here and we’ll open up the light, we’ll gut it, take out the old parts and put in a new ballast, new tombstones, new lamps.”

New ballasts or lighting mean big energy savings. But just how much?

Josh Wheeler, service manager, Wheeler Electric
“The operations manager for school district 91 mentioned the other day that lighting is between 25 and 30 percent of their overall energy consumption, the school. So if each school is dropping their overall energy consumption by let’s say 50 percent, that’s a pretty conservative estimate, they’re realizing a lot of savings in just a year.”
The best part? An actual rebate check comes to the customer for installing higher efficiency lights.

That’s how something so simple has helped Idaho Falls School District 91 switch their thinking.

Margaret Wimborne, Coordinator of Communications, Idaho Falls School District 91
“In these lean times, we need to make sure that we’re making the best use of every dollar we have. And when we’re making cuts to our budget, we want to do everything we can to minimize the impact on our students and teachers in our classrooms.”

In Idaho Falls, I’m Dominic Giarratano.

Thanks, Dom. Wheeler Electric has completed a number of these audits all around Idaho – but wherever they’ve gone, they’ve found out places to find building owners, municipalities and government’s money. That’s no illusion.

Thanks for being with us on this edition of Electric TV. See you next time.