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As we near the end of the fall and winter’s chill moves in, UT Knoxville’s energy conservation efforts are heating up: Over the past 15 months, your actions and ideas to save energy and work efficiently through the Switch Your Thinking campaign have saved the campus more than $1 million in energy costs alone.

That savings comes from everyone doing their part to eliminate wasted energy — that means turning off lights when a room is empty, shutting off computers at the end of the day, using a power strip and unplugging it at night and other simple energy-saving steps.

Thanks to help from all members of the campus community, our electricity usage per square foot on campus is down nearly 10 percent in that time frame. That reduced usage doesn’t just affect energy costs, but it also has a positive effect on the environment. Less power means less pollution created as a result of power plants.

Another key to the success of Switch Your Thinking is the campus energy conservation policy, which went into effect last year around this time. The policy formalizes a number of energy-saving efforts that were already taking place on campus and makes them consistent and easy to follow.

One major part of the policy is the establishment of target indoor air temperatures in campus buildings. In the heating season, the target temperature is 68 degrees Fahrenheit, while in the cooling season, it’s 76. With colder weather arriving, it’s a good time to remember ways to beat the cooler temperatures. On chilly days, dress in layers appropriate to the temperature, or keep a sweater or jacket at your desk. If your work area has windows, open your blinds when the sun is out and soak up some solar heat.

If you feel your work area is outside the established temperature range, contact Facilities Services at 974-5346. For both safety and energy conservation reasons, employees are not permitted to use personal space heaters in their work area. Not only do they present a fire hazard, but they are massive energy hogs. In fact, just one personal space heater uses as much energy as a chandelier with 25 60-watt light bulbs!

Facilities Services is dedicated to making sure campus resources operate as efficiently as possible while maintaining the comfort of students, faculty and staff. They will be happy to measure the temperature in your work space, and will ensure that it meets the minimum standards laid out in the conservation policy. Facilities staff also can conduct an energy audit if you have concerns about energy waste in your work space. In extreme circumstances, a Facilities Services-approved heater may be provided.

In the coming months, more energy upgrades are planned for campus, including the addition of more automatic light switches, energy efficient bulbs and upgrades to other infrastructure. Even with those upgrades, the success of Switch Your Thinking rests with people around campus continuing to take the simple steps necessary to reduce energy consumption.

For more information on UT Knoxville’s energy conservation policy, visit the Make Orange Green Web site.