Across the country, individuals and businesses are faced to deal with higher prices at the gas pump, supermarket, and on their utility bills.

Rising electricity costs necessitate improving energy efficiency and promoting conservation. Households are looking for ways to conserve energy through monitoring thermostats and checking doors and windows for insulation leaks. School districts have to do the same.

Electricity costs are determined at any given time on how much electricity is consumed. To calculate how much you are spending on a given appliance, you have to consider how long it is being used. The consumption of 1,000 watts is equal to a kilowatt-hour. Therefore, if you use ten 100-watt light bulbs for one hour, then you have used 1 kwh.

The Department of Energy has an energy calculator available online where one can fill in the blanks and determine how much a variety of appliances (refrigerators, water heaters, washers, dryers) cost to operate.

According to House Bill 3693, school districts are required to consume 5 percent less each year for the next six years, beginning Sept. 1, 2007.

Robstown ISD actively promotes students and employees to do their part to conserve energy by turning off lights when not in use, maintaining room temperature at 74 degrees for cooling and 68 degrees for heating, turning off computers at the end of the day, and utilizing an Energy Management System. This reduces energy waste while maintaining a safe, comfortable learning environment.

During 2006-07 school year, Robstown ISD consumed approximately 11 million kwhs compared to 10.6 million kwhs in 2005-06. With the support of our students and employees, the district anticipates 2007-08 consumption to be approximately 10.5 million kwhs, which is reduction of 5.4 percent from 2006-07.

Over the last three years, the district's electricity costs have gone up nearly 59 percent, whereas the consumption over the past three years has increased by 4.8 percent. Despite the district's efforts, the cost of electricity from 2006-07 to 2007-08 will increase by 37.5 percent, or $330,000.

Robstown ISD is not alone. Other districts within the area are also dealing with tremendous cost increases. Usages of the district's buildings are continuously being analyzed to determine cost utilization.

The district would like to thank Mr. Richard Garcia and the Robstown Utility Department for helping the district conduct an energy audit.

Roberto Garcia is the superintendent for the Robstown Independent School District. Readers may contact him via telephone at 767-6600, ext. 2223.