Image of beach with text "your electronics need a vacation too"Energy Setbacks during Break

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. You can save money and energy usage in your office, common areas, labs, residential rooms and spaces by following the simple steps listed below.

December 2019

Read the Winter Setback Letter from Rick Burgess, Vice President, Facilities & Campus Services

Before you leave campus for a much-deserved winter break, please join your colleagues in “powering down” your offices, labs, and common areas –your hard-working electronics need a vacation too! Each year, your participation in Cornell’s Winter Energy Shutdown avoids powering unused electronics, heating unoccupied buildings, and lighting empty offices. This collective action saves a huge amount of energy on campus, minimizes the use of natural resources, and reduces our university’s carbon emissions –critical steps towards our carbon neutral campus goal by 2035....

Key actions to take before you leave for break:

  • Switch off lights 
  • Unplug all electronics (many draw electricity even when off)  
  • Turn off power strips
  • Shut down computers in common spaces 
  • Close all exterior doors  
  • Close all windows and shut the shades/curtains 
  • Check thermostat, and if easily adjustable, turn down to 64F (but not off) for winter, or 75F for summer
  • Shutdown non-essential equipment (e.g. printers, freezers, growth chambers, etc.) 
  • Close fume hood sashes (one of the greatest energy consumers on campus) 
  • Report facilities issues (e.g. leaky faucets, broken windows, overly hot/cold rooms) 
  • Share these steps on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram 

Check your building’s energy performance on the Big Red Energy Scoreboard to see how you and your neighbors helped reduced energy use. If you have questions about these actions, please reach out to


Colleges and units directly benefit from avoided energy costs, so powering down makes an impact on your college/unit while improving overall campus sustainability.

And just imagine the social, economic, environmental, and academic benefits that are possible when we engage in sustainable behavior year-round. We will save the campus $1.4 million and over 3,500 tons of carbon through major energy upgrade projects completed this year, and Cornell is once again the #1 Ivy for sustainability in the nation because of your efforts.  

Program Savings

Winter Setback 2018:  1.5 million kWh of electricity and $115,000  saved during the shutdown, equivalent to eliminating the energy use of 115 homes for an entire year.

Your actions make a difference! Thank you for your continued efforts to save energy, reduce carbon emissions, and adopt sustainable practices. We can’t do it without you!