UNC College Kids School Everybody on How to Save Energy (and Money)

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In a national competition organized by the Environmental Protection Agency, buildings around the country were challenged to decrease energy use over the course of a year. The winning building was a dorm at UNC-Chapel Hill, which reduced energy use by 35.7% and saved more than $250,000 on energy costs.

How did they do it? Mostly, with all the energy-saving methods you hear about all the time. An EPA press release explains:

Competitions between dorm floors encouraged students to turn off lights and computers, and reminders were posted in elevators, bathrooms, and common areas. Improvements to the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, as well as lighting improvements, helped to increase the building’s energy efficiency and maximize savings.

Some of the energy-saving techniques were more high-tech. According to the WSJ, the runner-up, a Sears store in Maryland…

wielded thermal-imaging cameras to detect and minimize heat generated by equipment powering the store.

Overall, however, the easiest and simplest energy-saving strategies are among the most cost-effective. These efforts including replacing weather-stripping that’s old or missing, and making sure that heating and cooling systems are doing their jobs efficiently. Also, there are the things that cheapskates and everybody’s grandparents tend to do instinctively:

“One of the biggest things that doesn’t cost money and the reason we were successful was getting store teams to turn off lights and close doors,” says Michael Brown, director of environmental sustainability for Sears, which operates some 3,900 stores, including Kmart.

By far, the easiest way to save energy and cut costs is simply to stop wasting energy foolishly in the first place.