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7 Summer Savings Ideas for Higher Education Energy Managers

thermostatMoney-3If you’re involved in a college community of any type, June is a month of transition. Most students have left on summer break. Faculty and staff are planning and executing well-deserved vacations. Others are finding a chance to catch their breath after a busy semester and to start preparations for the next.

Whatever your situation, summer is presenting savings opportunities for the savvy energy manager. Here are just a few of the summer savings suggestions we discovered in a recent web search.

1. Reset those thermostats.

When the University of Alabama goes into air conditioning mode, thermostat ranges are increased six degrees from 68-70°F to 74-76°F. If you’ve already completed that thermostat project, don’t forget to calculate anticipated savings and celebrate them when they materialize.

2. Review and revise your switchover policies. 

Depending on your location, you may experience wide swings in temperature during the spring and fall of the year. In light of the high costs associated with switching between heating and cooling, make sure that your policies and rationales are thoughtful, responsive, and efficient. Then communicate them effectively.

3. Plan for holiday shutdowns. 

Even brief periods of campus closure offer great opportunities for significant savings on utilities. Make sure that building-by-building shut-down plans are in place and on the calendar, and that needed staff are available and trained in proper shutdown procedures.

4. Form a summer energy conservation task force. 

Many colleges and universities are publicly committed to sustainability. Tap some of that commitment and enthusiasm by forming a task force with the specific goal of identifying summer savings opportunities and a plan for turning ideas into actions. You’ll be amazed at what happens.

5. Enhance your water conservation program. 

Valencia College in Orlando, FL, uses a multifaceted approach that includes landscaping and irrigation policy, rainwater harvesting, stormwater management, indoor water use efficiency, cooling towers, and even air-cooled ice machines. Chances are that some of these approaches would work for your organization as well.

6. Consider a Competition.

Behavioral programs can make a real difference in organization energy consumption. Even if staff and student populations have dwindled in the summer, there are unique savings opportunities, or perhaps some free time to plan a fall education campaign. A well-executed behavioral program can empower your audience with practical suggestions for conservation. Good tracking/monitoring and communication of results can encourage and motivate. A number of colleges have had success with dormitory or departmental competitions with an energy focus.

7. Take advantage of the sun.

Solar panel projects are an excellent means of raising energy awareness, and can contribute to campus sustainability. Many utilities are offering financial incentives for solar projects in order to meet reduction or green energy targets. Now is a good time to investigate the possibilities with your vendor(s).

Good luck with your summer savings!

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