UNH Saves Energy Dollars
By “Powering Down” Over
Contact: Beth Potier
UNH Media Relations
Jan. 25, 2006
DURHAM, N.H. -- By shutting down computers and unplugging office
and lab equipment, University of New Hampshire faculty and staff
saved more than 92,000 kilowatt-hours (kwh) while the university
was closed at the end of December. The 13 percent savings, which
amounts to $12,711, represents the amount of electricity needed
to power eight homes for a year. Emissions reductions are equivalent
to removing 19 cars from the road for one year.
“This project demonstrated that there is no conflict at
all between doing the right environmental thing and saving money,” said
John Aber, vice president for research and public service and chair
of the university’s Energy Task Force, which spearheaded
the “power down” initiative.
The initiative, launched in early December, targeted
faculty and staff, encouraging them to save energy by turning
lights, equipment, and “phantom” users of electricity
like cell phone chargers (which draw significant electricity even
after the phone has charged) before leaving for the winter break.
Like many universities, UNH closes most of its offices between
Christmas and New Year’s; this year’s break was Dec.
23 – Jan. 3.
“The biggest savings on a cumulative basis is probably computers,
since everyone has one and they draw a lot of energy,” said
Matt O’Keefe, utilities contract manager for the UNH Energy
Office. “We also assume that a lot was saved from more awareness
to each individual’s working environment.” Electronic
equipment and appliances can draw 30 percent of their total energy
use when turned off but still plugged in.
During students’ winter break, from mid-December through
mid-January, the university sees an annual average 30 percent energy
savings due largely to closed residence halls and dining services.
The UNH Energy Office calculated this year’s power down savings
at approximately 13 percent above the usual winter break reduction
“I think the effort was a huge success,” said Crescentia
True, associate director of the Office of Sustainability and a
member of the Energy Task Force. “A long-term success would
be if we can get people to think about powering down every weekend
as part of their routines.” True added that since powering
down can be as simple as unplugging a power strip, it could easily
become as much a habit as turning off office lights for the weekend.
The Energy Task Force, created by UNH President
Ann Weaver Hart in fall of 2005 to reduce energy costs and improve
on campus, launched a similar effort targeted at students over
the Thanksgiving break. While many of the task force’s projects,
such as increasing the energy efficiency of buildings, will take
up to two years to net results, the power down efforts were launched
very quickly and had an immediate measurable impact.
“It’s great to see an immediate result and an immediate
level of interest,” said Aber. “This has always been
a campus that is interested in environmental measures, and it showed.”
UNH is a leader in energy conservation, ranked in the top five
percent of all research universities for energy efficiency by the
U.S. Department of Energy. The university has earned several regional
and national awards for its innovative energy conservation efforts,
which range from propane- and biodiesel-powered vehicles to its
recycling and composting program.