Through the university's Energy 2000 program, $750,000 to $1 million is being invested each year through FY2000 for energy conservation projects on the UIUC campus. Some of these funds have been used for steam-trap testing and maintenance. What are steam traps and why are they important to the energy conservation effort? Steam traps help ensure the efficient operation of heating and cooling systems that serve campus buildings. They act like valves by retaining steam in the system until it condenses at heating coils, radiators, steam absorption chillers and various other steam-powered equipment. Traps then drain the steam condensate away in return lines, to be reused at Abbott Power Plant. Approximately 35,000 steam traps operate on campus. Traps that are not working properly have either become plugged or stuck open, allowing steam to blow (leak) through the system. Energy is thus wasted, and problems often result due to excessive water buildup or pressure in the system. Many problems and costly repair bills have been avoided since the beginning of a new steam-trap testing program in FY1991. Small, hand-held sensor/computers are used to quickly and accurately determine if a trap is operating correctly and efficiently. When faulty traps are discovered, repairs or replacements are then made resulting in a more efficient use of energy. To date, more than 5,000 traps have been identified as faulty and have been repaired or replaced. The steam trap testing/repair program is estimated to be saving approximately $450,000 per year. The "Energy Conservation Corner" is published regularly in Inside Illinois. If you have a question regarding energy conservation programs or practices on campus, contact Jeff Buenting at 333-1364 or email@example.com.