DERRY — Derry Public Library could save a lot of money once it gets upgraded to natural gas.
That is what officials hope for as a plan to convert the 23,000-square-foot library’s HVAC systems from oil to natural gas gets closer to a start date.
The town is currently seeking proposals from contractors. The cost of the conversion could be approximately $83,000; the money was included in the town’s fiscal year 2014 capital improvement plan.
“This has been a long-term goal,” Public Works Director Michael Fowler said.
The project will be done in several phases, Fowler said, with the initial phase beginning later this summer to extend the gas main from Park Avenue, across East Broadway to the library.
Natural gas could save the library thousands of dollars per year. Fowler said the library was already spending about $14,000 per year on its approximate 4,500-gallon fuel oil usage.
Town officials and library board members have had the project on the radar for some time.
“The cost of (natural gas) is so much cheaper,” Town Administrator John Anderson said during this year’s budget process.
He said there even may be a possibility of tying nearby Grinnell Elementary and Gilbert H. Hood Middle schools into a natural gas link once the library goes online.
The library could save thousands of dollars simply because it would no longer require regular Department of Environmental Services inspections of its 5,000-gallon underground oil storage tank.
Helping the library save money on energy costs is part of the town’s mission to be as energy-efficient as possible, Fowler said.
“Whenever possible, we try to be proactive,” he said. “This makes sense for the town.”
Other town facilities are reaping benefits. Energy-saving efforts are already in use in many buildings, Fowler said, including the fire department, police station, and municipal center.
When the police department went from propane to natural gas, utility bills dropped about 7 percent.
“We’ve been pretty consistent with our energy efforts,” Fowler said.
The town’s other library, Taylor Library in East Derry, also saw energy-saving changes. In 2013, town officials approved measures to put cost-saving measures into place at the tiny library, including replacing storm windows, sealing leaks, insulation work and adding energy-efficient light bulbs — simple changes that keep the building cooler in summer and warmer during the winter.
Another historic building in town, Veterans Hall, also got major upgrades. The town used Energy Efficiency Community Block grant funding to give the 85-year-old building a major face-lift.
The building got exterior improvements, roof repairs, new energy-efficient windows and doors, and a more efficient boiler and radiant heat system.