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Switch Your ThinkingAs summer temperatures begin to rise, peak energy use times return to campus. Beginning June 1 through September 30, our campus is charged more for its energy use between the hours of 2:00 and 8:30 p.m.

Faculty, staff, students, and visitors can follow these tips to save resources and lower energy costs:

  • Take advantage of natural light
  • Turn off the lights when you’re the last to leave a room
  • Power down unused computers and other electronic appliances. Faculty, staff, and students can sign the campus Power Down Pledge here.
  • Complete higher electric use activities outside of the peak time period
  • Keep outside doors and windows closed to conserve air conditioning
  • Take the stairs and limit your use of elevators

In addition, faculty and staff who operate dishwashers or laundry machines or stock refrigerators and freezers as part of their jobs should conduct this work outside of the peak use times.

Peak times for energy use are determined by the Tennessee Valley Authority and vary by season. Summer peak energy use billing, which became mandatory for TVA’s largest customers in 2011, provides the campus with an opportunity to save on energy costs by adjusting routines.

Faculty, staff, and students have been encouraged to change their on-campus energy use habits since the Switch Your Thinking initiative began in September 2008. Since then, campus electricity use per square foot has decreased by approximately 7 percent. With this improvement, the university has cut more than 68,000 megawatt-hours in electricity usage equaling a cost avoidance of $5.2 million.

The campus was honored at TVA’s Green Power Switch Leadership Awards last month by receiving the Sustainable Pioneer award for the second year in a row. The award is given to the largest purchaser of green power in TVA’s service area. UT’s green power purchase efforts are led through the Student Environmental Initiatives Committee, a body made up a students, faculty, and staff.

You can find more about UT’s sustainable efforts and tips for reducing campus energy use at