UNM students have come up with an energy-reducing plan to save the University nearly $600,000 per year.

Bruce Milne, Sustainability Studies Program director, said the program should help the University shave 10 percent off its utility bill.

“President Schmidly called for ideas to save money,” he said. “Saving money on utilities keeps teachers in the classroom so that students can graduate. Energy conservation helps meet UNM’s goal of becoming carbon-neutral.”

Education is Power, a campaign to teach the UNM community energy-saving techniques, was developed last semester by Sustainability Studies students.

Kelly Williamson, a sustainability studies minor, said organizers urge students and professors to adopt four key energy-saving habits: turning off lights, unplugging appliances, wearing sweaters in the winter and using natural light.

Milne said campaign organizers tried a “guerilla de-lamping experiment,” in which they went around unscrewing fluorescent light bulbs in classrooms. He said the difference in lighting isn’t noticeable since most classrooms are over-lit.
“It is easy to disconnect up to half the fluorescent bulbs to cut energy use,” he said.

Students in professor Maggie Seeley’s class went around Northrop Hall to test the effectiveness of the campaign’s message. They spoke with professors and students, placed stickers reminding people to turn off the lights after leaving a room on light-switch panels, and tacked up posters emphasizing energy-saving behaviors around the building.

“It was pretty effective,” Seeley said. “The people in Northrop are already pretty savvy, so it was possibly successful because there was already a high level of interest among the people in the building.”

Physical Plant Department Director Mary Vosevich said her department supports the program’s goals.

“As far as the goal being attainable — it is a lofty goal, but that is the way it should be,” she said. “We know there is still ample energy to be saved.”