Winter break energy savings top $280,000

North Carolina State University students, faculty and staff pulled the plug, hit the switch and saved the university $281,774 in avoided energy costs during winter break, Dec. 21, 2012 – Jan. 1, 2013.

Since the baseline year of 2004, this annual energy-saving initiative known as the Winter Holiday Energy Setback has saved taxpayers of North Carolina more than $2.1 million. This campus-wide effort facilitated by NC State’s Energy Management Office looks for energy reducing opportunities in buildings that are unoccupied over winter break. Opportunities typically involve lowering building thermostat temperatures 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, NC State’s 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 e-mails 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 4-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, creating an estimated annual savings of $10 million.