Energy Wars
UNIVERSITY Utah State University
TAGS energy | student engagement | competition


Many USU students do not pay their energy bills, but they are using energy. USU's energy consumption contributes to the Cache Valley's air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Students participating in Energy Wars practice habits that improve air quality and will save the university money now and students money when they are paying their own energy bills.


The Living Learning Community, the winning housing area, reduced their energy consumption compared to the previous year by 11%, and by 24% compared to the 3-year average. The total energy savings from all participating housing areas was the equivalent of taking nine Utah households of the grid for the entire duration of the competition.


Housing was on board from the beginning because it acts as an auxiliary to campus and pays its own utility bills. The challenge has been to regularly update the housing areas with their weekly progress. The meters cannot be remotely read, so we have to get someone to read the meters between monthly billing cycles. Housing provides weekly prizes, such as hot chocolate, to the winning area. At the end of the competition, the overall winner receives a traveling trophy made of recycled materials. The university president awards this at the annual Pancakes with the President dinner.


We had a student do the weekly meter reading, and some of the meters are in control rooms, so he had to get a master key. The student lost the key, resulting in a $400 charge. Now, a university employee must read the meters. Ideally, we want to update the meters, so they can be remotely read. We've also continuously been evaluating and perfecting our system for comparing usage to a baseline in way that is fair.


In the coming year, RAs are going to become more involved in creating programs for whole housing areas and proving those areas with credit in the competition for attending programs on energy conservation.