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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

March 13, 2009

Green tip of the week: Eliminate your 'midnight sun'

by Merry Rankin, Director of sustainability

Ever walk by a building at night and wonder why so many lights are still on? Even when no one is around, lights remain on in classrooms, offices, residence hall common areas or our homes.

In essence, our buildings are being lit by a "midnight sun." Unlike Mother Nature's midnight sun, this light is costly. Here are some ways to eliminate it and save money:

Adopt a policy that the last person to leave a room makes sure the lights are off. Posting reminder signs near doors or light switches can be helpful.

  • Install occupancy sensors. There are many different types of sensors, but they all do the same thing -- turn lights on and off, according to whether a room has occupants. Sensors cost as little as $37 and can save an estimated 25 to 65 percent of energy consumption.
  • Around homes, motion sensors are useful for outdoor lighting and timers work well for indoor lights that always seem to be left on.

If you're on campus, there's money to help you. Find out about the new Live Green revolving loan fund that provides funding for green initiatives at ISU. See Inside's related story, or go online.

This week, take some time to observe your areas of midnight sun and make a plan for elimination. With daylight-saving time well under way, Mother Nature is offering a lot of extra daylight to assist with your transition.

Earth Hour

On March 28, be part of the worldwide Earth Hour event by turning your lights off for one hour at 8:30 p.m. Over 36 million Americans took part last year. For more information and to sign up, check out

Live Green!

More information on Iowa State's "Live Green!" initiative is online.