KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The U.S. Department of Energy is wasting enough electricity to power more than 9,800 homes a year by failing to turn down the heat or air conditioning when workers leave for the day, auditors said Thursday.
“In spite of its energy conservation leadership role, we found that the department and its facility contractors did not place adequate emphasis on reducing energy consumption” by adjusting their after-hours thermostats, Inspector General Gregory Friedman wrote.
The auditors found temperature “setback controls” lacking, broken or unused in 35 of 55 large buildings at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Tennessee; the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Washington state.
The Y-12 plant’s $154 million, privately financed Jack Case Office Building and New Hope Visitors Center opened last year. Though it was fully green-building certified, the auditors said no one bothered to buy software to make its setback system work. Based on DOE formulas, the auditors projected that temperature setbacks on heating, ventilation and air conditioning in more than 9,000 buildings could save over $11.5 million on the agency’s $300 million electric bill.