BATH, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The Hyde Mansion now sits as a centerpiece of the Hyde School campus, but little did John Hyde know when he built it nearly 100 years ago, that his shipyard would help blaze a path to lower energy costs for the building and the school.
Like many Mainers, officials at Hyde School were looking for ways to save on their energy costs, when an opportunity presented itself.
"We were in the neighborhood of $400,000 a year for fuel to heat the campus," explained Hyde's director of facilities, George Paton.
When a natural gas pipeline was extended to Bath Iron Works, the school jumped at the chance to convert the majority of its buildings over to save money and reduce its impact on the environment.
"It is better for the environment, because it burns cleaner," stated Paton.
"There tends to be less maintenance on the boilers and the furnaces and so forth," he added. "For a facilities guy that is great news."
The school invested nearly $200,000 to make the change, but expects to recoup the cost in about a year's time by cutting their heating costs in half.
"What worked out for the Hyde School is the fact that the Iron Works had run a pipe basically adjacent to the campus and they had sufficient load with the buildings that they have got here to make it work financially," said Erik Norman, an engineering manager with Mechanical Services.
Norman says they were able to use some of the boilers that were already in place and convert them from fuel oil to natural gas, but others had to be replaced.
He says the conversion will actually make less work for the company's technicians, but the long-term savings for the school are more important than the money they might lose by having to perform less maintenance on the heating system.
"On oil, every year you have got to take this thing apart and brush it and vacuum all the soot out of it," said Norman. "Now you might inspect it every year."
With natural gas costing about half of what heating oil costs currently, Norman says the company is busy helping customers save money by converting to natural gas.