WKU lowers energy costs over break

Caitlin Carter

While students were on vacation for Thanksgiving, so were some WKU’s energy resources.

Last week, Facilities Management sent out a university-wide e-mail asking the WKU community to make efforts in conserving energy during Thanksgiving break.


The initiative was called “Conservation Vacation.”

Officials planned for lighting levels to be reduced, thermostats to be set to 55 degrees and water heaters and vending machines to be shut down over break, according to the e-mail.

Energy Manager Dale Dyer said he also asked students, faculty and staff to individually turn off any idle energy draws such as computers, printers, lamps and copiers before they left for break.

By taking these measures, WKU used about 113,044 kilowatt hours less energy during the week of Thanksgiving than the previous week, Sustainability Coordinator Christian Ryan-Downing said. When converted monetarily, this adds up to about $10,000 in savings.

Though there isn’t a lot of historical data for comparison, Ryan-Downing said WKU did conserve more energy this year than years past.

“We can’t say exactly how much we saved over last year’s Thanksgiving break, but we expect we did much better this year, since we made a greater effort,” Ryan-Downing said.

Recently, the main campus was added to Dashboard, which will make it easier to track WKU’s energy conservation, Ryan-Downing said.

Accessible on the Housing and Residence Life website, Dashboard is a tool that shows real-time energy use for WKU, as well as historical data, Ryan-Downing said.

“If you take a look at the Dashboard, it’s interesting to look at the use trend for the week,” Ryan-Downing said. “You can see on Saturday we went up a little bit for the game that was here, and then on Sunday evening, electricity use creeps back up as students returned.”

Soon, Facilities Management will begin planning for another “Conservation Vacation” for winter break, Ryan-Downing said.

“We’re going a bit further since the campus unoccupied period is longer,” Ryan-Downing said. “We’re asking folks to defrost and unplug refrigerators – hundreds across campus use lots of energy – and we will turn off lights in unused parking lots, consolidate food to fewer freezers in dining services and other such things.”