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August 10, 2001

Energy efforts paying off

by Diana Pounds
Dialing up thermostats and hitting the "off" switch on computers, monitors and other equipment are paying off. Energy-conserving measures shaved about $104,000 from the usual June energy bill and $16,000 from a torrid July bill, said David Miller, director of utilities.

The savings are figured on average monthly energy costs over the previous three years. Unseasonably high heat and humidity during the last half of July hurt the conservation effort, Miller said, but the good news is that there were some savings despite the heat.

"Without conservation efforts, our costs would likely have been significantly higher," he added.

Miller said more conservation efforts will be needed to realize the goal of $1.5 million in energy savings this year. That goal is part of a university plan to cope with budget cuts.

It's important to conserve as much as possible during the summer and winter, he said. That's when most cooling and heating occurs and when it's easiest to make a difference in energy costs.

Energy-saving efforts began early this summer, when utilities staff hiked building thermostats and asked the campus community to help conserve by shutting off equipment and appliances whenever possible.

Next, utilities staff turned their attention to developing individual energy-conservation plans for more than 80 campus buildings. Staff are about midway through the process, which involves inspecting buildings, consulting with occupants and agreeing on plans to further reduce energy use.

"A common strategy is to identify times during evenings and weekends to shut off air," Miller said.

ASB success story
The Administrative Services Building was one of the first to receive individual attention and is an early success story, Miller said. The building used 12 percent less electricity in June and 25 percent less in July than previous averages for those months.

"That's excellent, especially considering that our overall university goal is to cut electricity use by 9 percent," he said. "Electricity savings at ASB and across campus are an indication that people are pitching in by shutting things off.

"The $1.5 million is a very ambitious goal," Miller added. "If we're going to meet that goal, we'll have to do it together as a community. There are a lot of things we can do to make a difference."

Tips on saving energy and information on Iowa State's energy conservation program are on the facilities Web site at

Ron Cochran (holding a blueprint) makes a point as other members of an energy survey team examine equipment in the basement of Hamilton Hall. Facilities Planning and Management staff are spending the summer surveying and developing energy conservation plans for more than 80 buildings on campus. Other members of the crew are (from left) Craig Wirth, Dave McVicker, Don Hoffman and Stan McAndrews (not shown). Photo by Bob Elbert.

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