Winter Setback in 2018 Saved Cornell $80K

Campus Sustainability Office April 9, 2019

The annual Winter Setback program saved the Cornell campus over $80,000 during the 2018-2019 campus closures during the holiday and winter break through December and January.  Last year, the campus saved $100,000 during the same time.  What changed?

About the Analysis & Program
Before leaving campus for winter break or spring break, and other holidays throughout the year, Cornell reminds the campus to unplug and unwind to help save energy on campus. The campus saves money and energy usage in your office, common areas, labs, residential rooms and spaces by following the simple steps listed below.  Winter Setback is part of Cornell's climate action plan as a critical engagement program to reduce energy savings and increase energy literacy on campus.  The program has been running since at least 2012. 

Facilities & Campus Services monitors energy savings resulting from winter setback outreach and engagement, and balances the savings against any known maintenance shut-downs.  The resulting data shows the possible energy and carbon reduction resulting from individuals across their departments, offices, common spaces, and residential spaces, collectively powering down before the winter break at the end of December each year. 

2018 Data and the Reduction in Savings
The $80,000 savings was calculated by assuming an average load reduction of 1500kw for 24hrs/day during the full thirty days that dormitories are closed between December and January 2019.    The campus saved about 1,080,000 kwh during this time.  Electricity rates are currently $0.076 per kwh.  The final number was adjusted for known maintenance and facilities projects. 

Why did Cornell see fewer savings this year? In 2017-2018, Cornell implemented a major LED lighting retrofit project across campus.  As a result, our lighting across residential and office spaces is more efficient, meaning we use less energy as a community year round. That also means when we turn off the lights, we will see less of an impact on our energy load over time.  The reduction in savings is a good thing - this shows we are making substantial progress to make our baseline systems more efficient, and more sustainable!

Turning off lights is still worthwhile - we all need to do our part to create sustainable habits and conserve energy.
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