Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

December 19, 2013

WKU unplugged

'Conservation vacation" is saving energy and money

The Independent

ASHLAND — Before they left campus and headed home for the holidays, Western Kentucky University asked students and staff to unplug over the break.

Western offices are in the midst of being closed for three weeks. During that span, those who work on the campus were asked to turn off power strips or unplug computers, printers, copiers and other equipment. Students checking out of residence halls for the break were asked to unplug computers, TVs, refrigerators and other electronics.

If staff and students followed instructions, the university in Bowling Green expects to reap big energy saving. How big? Well, since WKU started emphasizing its “conservation vacation” in 2008, WKU says has reduced energy consumption by more than 3.1 million kilowatt hours. That has saved approximately  $264,000 and reduced greenhouse emissions by more than 2,000 metric tons.

Put another way, Western says those figures are equal to the annual emissions of more than 450 passenger vehicles and more than 300 U.S. homes’ annual electricity use.

We suspect Western is not the only university asking students and staff to take a “conservation vacation,” but if any do not, one only has to look at what Western has saved to be encouraged to do the same. In fact, WKU’s savings has us wondering just how much we could save in our homes by turning off a few lights and keeping the house a little cooler when no one is at home. While we may not want to go to the trouble of unplugging computers, we can certainly turn them off when no one is using them. And how many of us have the TV on when no one is watching?

Our point is this: conservation saves money and reduces energy use. While we can’t save on the scale of WKU,  we can all do our part by taking a more limited conservation vacation.