How Much Energy Can You Save

May 19, 2017


Last semester, the student volunteers of Illini Lights Out set a record by turning off 2,210 lights and shutting 53 windows, including 7 in a classroom in Noyes Laboratory where the air conditioning was running at full capacity. The Lights Out event highlighted how much energy can be saved simply by changing behaviors:

  • Turn off lights and window air conditioners when leaving a room
  • close doors to conditioned spaces
  • Adjust computer monitors and printers to enter power saving modes sooner
  • Turn off refrigerators and coolers in labs when not in use
  • Shut fume hood sashes

These actions not only support the goals of the Illinois Climate Action Plan (iCAP), but add up to substantial savings over the course of a year. If you want to have a bigger impact, join forces with your co-workers to compete for an Energy Conservation Incentive Program (ECIP) award through Facilities & Services.

If you work in a state-owned building of 10,000 square feet or more, your building is automatically entered in the program. The top four buildings which demonstrate the greatest percentage of energy savings over the fiscal year win funds for facility improvements. Your building can compete based on the energy conservation activities of you and your co-workers, or by energy efficiency improvements made to your building. Past awards have ranged from $10,000 to over $100,000.

How fast can small changes add up? The Illini Lights Out students found 100 lights left on in a lecture hall. Turning off the lights in this one room for one weekend saved $26 worth of electricity. Given this, you can see how past winners like the Undergraduate Library were able to avoid more than $53,000 in utility costs in a single year. But don’t worry if you and your co-workers don’t work in a big building. Buildings compete on a percentage basis, so everyone has an equal opportunity to win.

Next year’s ECIP program starts July 1st, but don’t wait until then to start making changes. We all can reduce our energy usage on campus and every little bit helps, especially now.

You can find more energy conservation tips on this factsheet.


During seven Illini Lights Out events this year, 200 student volunteers turned off more than 11,000 lights in 19 buildings around campus. This saved 38,000 kilowatt hours of energy valued at $3,400. Photo: Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and the Environment (iSEE)

How Much Energy PDF