Do Your Part to Help UNL Cut Energy Costs

University employees are being asked to contribute to a cost-cutting measure that is relatively painless, but will help the university save resources – energy savings.

UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman asks that faculty and staff join in helping reduce energy costs for the upcoming year. By reducing energy consumption, we can avoid shifting precious resources into the energy budget. And any savings in the current budget can be directed toward energy conservation efforts.

The state funded budget for the fiscal year 2008-09 allots $21,000,000 to purchase utilities (this does not include amounts for auxiliary facilities). Under the new NUCorp agreement, all utility savings will be reinvested into energy conservation projects to further enhance UNL's energy efficiency. Over time, utility savings from these costs will be the difference in what the utility budget would have needed to be without the conservation measures versus the budget that we will need. By being frugal in our use of utilities, we can redirect funds to other campus needs. This is analogous to why we turn our heat down at home -- we have more money in our family budgets for other uses.

The following ten energy-saving tips are offered to help reduce energy consumption at UNL.


 
1   LIGHTS OUT  Turn off lights in any room when lights are no longer needed. Lighting accounts for 5 percent to 10 percent of total energy use; when multiplied by the number of users, the potential for waste is enormous. Make the most of natural daylight, using incandescent bulbs sparingly (they are the cheapest but least efficient light source), using task rather than general lighting, using fluorescent lighting when possible and turning off unnecessary lights. Be proactive; turn off incandescent lights whenever they are not needed, and turn off fluorescent lights if they will not be needed for 10 minutes or longer (turning a light back on does not use more electricity than leaving it on, but fluorescent fixture life is decreased if switching is too frequent). If bi-level switching or dimmers are available, use the lowest setting that meets your need.
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COMPUTERS, PHOTOCOPIERS AND PRINTERS  Turn off computers, monitors, printers and photocopiers when you leave your office for the evening. During the day, turn off your computer monitor when you leave your desk for more than a few minutes. This recommendation applies to all computers and monitors, but is especially important if you use an older CRT monitor or the new, large LCD monitors. If you must leave your computer on for off-campus access, use the power management built in to your operating system (Windows: Control Panel > Performance and Maintenance > Power Options; Mac: System Preferences > Energy Saver) to automatically reduce energy use. There are at least 15,000 and perhaps as many as 18,000 computers at UNL. If each were turned off, or powered down during non-use periods, the potential for significant savings exists. Or, use a laptop: a typical laptop computer has a power consumption of 30 watts. A typical desktop PC, with conventional display, consumes about 5 times as much. Printers are typically left on for extended periods of time but are active only for a small percentage of that time. This means conventional printers can waste a significant amount of energy. Laser printers consume the most energy. When purchasing, select a printer with power management capabilities. Printers with automatic "power down" features can reduce electricity use by over 65 percent.

3   THERMOSTATS  UNL has many different heating and cooling systems, which makes it difficult to give general rules about thermostat use. While you will almost always save energy by turning your home thermostat down (up in summer) when you're away, that action can have the opposite effect in some UNL buildings. Use the thermostat to maintain comfortable conditions in your workspace, and set it at the desired room temperature. During non-use periods, Facilities Management & Planning makes customized adjustments to most buildings' heating and cooling systems to reduce energy use as much as possible.
4   SPACE HEATERS  While it may be cool on winter mornings after an overnight HVAC shutdown, the use of space heaters is strongly discouraged. Standard electric space heaters consume 1500 watts at their typical highest setting; that's essentially the energy footprint of 10 desktop computers with monitors. Keep in mind that any costs associated with the operation of space heaters will lessen the amount saved through our HVAC shutdown policy. So if you're regularly uncomfortable during the hours when UNL's HVAC systems are recovering, consider bringing a sweater to work.
5   APPLIANCES  Turn off coffee pots and similar appliances when they are not in use. A typical coffee pot costs 4 cents per use and another 4 cents per hour to keep the coffee warm. Radios and TVs should be turned off when out of the office.
6   PERSONAL DRESS  Wear clothing appropriate to the season and weather – lightweight clothing in summer and warmer clothes in winter. Wear layers so you can adapt to varying conditions in your workspace and still be comfortable.
7   WINDOWS  In winter, drapes or blinds should be open when windows are in direct sunlight or you are using the daylight, and closed otherwise. During summer, close drapes or blinds to prevent direct sunlight from entering the room. Try not to use windows for temperature control.
8   DOORS  Use revolving doors where available. Vestibule doors should not be propped open and should always close and latch behind you.
9   EXHAUST FANS  Turn off small exhaust fans when they are not needed. Close laboratory fume hood doors whenever the hood is not being used (and whenever possible, even during use).
10   MAINTENANCE  Notify your building maintenance reporter if your work area is overheated in the winter or overcooled in summer. Do not habitually open a window to get rid of excess heat in the winter.
    YOUR SUGGESTIONS  Have a suggestion for other energy-saving steps that could be taken at UNL? Email Kirk Conger, energy projects manager.