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Becoming more energy efficient

The vending machine. An oasis for the thirsty. A cure for the snack attack. And a burden on a company's electric bill.

Cam Metcalf

"These vending machines have lights. That takes power. We figured out a way to limit the electricity needed to run them. You have to look for these opportunities."

Cam Metcalf runs the Kentucky Pollution Prevention Center at the University of Louisville. His engineering team looks for ways to help U of L —and other businesses-- become more energy efficient. Team members found vending machines didn't need to run those gleaming lights in low-traffic areas and at night. So they installed vending misers to turn off the power.

Metcalf continues

"The vending misers turn off electricity, keep drinks cold enough to cruise for awhile. We found 40 to 60 percent savings."

The center has also studied light- harvesting ballasts. These cells are used to make light bulbs put out only the amount of light needed in a room.

Metcalf adds

"It's a photo sensing cell. If it's a bright day out, it will turn down the fluorescent light-- and still keep the same foot-candles needed for students to see."

Two new schools are being built in Jefferson County and will have the light-harvesting ballasts installed in the lights. As for the vending machines, the University of Louisville is saving more than $3,000 a year with the installation of the vending misers.

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