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Program Nets Big Energy Savings

NC State students, faculty and staff pulled the plug, hit the switch and saved the university $281,774 in energy costs during winter break.

Since the baseline year of 2004, this annual energy-saving initiative known as the Winter Holiday Energy Setback has saved taxpayers more than $2.1 million. This campus-wide effort facilitated by the Energy Management Office, looks for ways to reduce energy use in buildings that are unoccupied over winter break. That typically involves lowering thermostats to around 65°F, turning off unnecessary lights and equipment, and closing doors and windows.

“The Winter Holiday Energy Setback reflects NC State’s commitment to financial and environmental stewardship,” said Alan Daeke, director of Utility and Engineering Services. “It demonstrates that simple steps taken by the campus community can save significant amounts of energy, utility costs and carbon emissions.”

Through emails and electronic flyers, students, faculty and staff were encouraged to turn off lights and office equipment, close doors and windows, and unplug all unnecessary electronics before leaving for winter break.

“On main campus alone, electrical demand dropped by more than 3 megawatts over a four-hour period the day before winter break began. That’s enough to power 300 homes for a year,” said Claudia Powell, NC State’s energy program coordinator.

Funds saved through this program are used to finance future energy-efficient upgrades in university buildings, adding to the recent advances in campus energy conservation. According to the university’s 2012 Strategic Energy and Water Annual Report, campus energy use has dropped 13 percent and total utility cost has dropped 11 percent since 2004, achieving an estimated annual savings of $10 million.

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