With a heating oil and natural gas crisis predicted even before multiple hurricanes devastated many production areas in the Gulf Coast region this year, schools are seeing their already overtaxed budgets further threatened by the high cost of regulating their physical environments.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, America's primary and secondary schools pay $6 billion annually for energy-related costs. These costs include everything from heating and cooling their buildings, to the cost of the electricity used for running lights, vending machines, and computers, to flushing toilets and preparing student meals.

Fuel oil costs are estimated to rise by at least


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