ROANOKE CO., Va. -

Chances are good, your heating bill will be higher this month because of the freezing cold weather.

Some school systems got some relief, though, in the form of alternative energy.

In Roanoke County, many of the new schools have geothermal systems that help with heating costs.

Specialized pumps under the ground use the heat below the ground to warm the building above it.

With all the green technology the county's installed, they've cut the heating, gas and electric bills nearly in half.

County leaders say the cost of installing geothermal heating units is close to a million dollars, but it's worth the money.

"There's an offset through savings. We find seven years payback on some of the buildings that are very large," said Roanoke County Schools Operations Director Marty Misicko, "The school board has really bought into it because it's saving them operational costs."

Roanoke City Schools also has some forms of alternative energy at three of its schools, like solar and wind, that have saved it money on heating.