CU residence hall students conserve energy in a 'Power Smackdown'

University of Colorado Boulder students in Baker and Libby residence halls are competing this month to reduce energy use as part of a "Power Smackdown" led by the CU Environmental Center's energy outreach team.

The friendly competition kicked off with a light bulb exchange event, where students were able to trade their incandescent light bulbs for compact fluorescent light bulbs, which are 75 percent more efficient and can last for eight to 10 years.

Despite the subzero temperatures this month, forcing students indoors for longer periods of time, Baker and Libby residents already have reduced energy consumption in the buildings by more than 1,700 kilowatt-hours compared with February of 2010.

"Our goal with this competition is not just to educate students, but help them change their behaviors and form good habits that they can use long after they've moved on from residence hall living," said Hayley Gilreath, energy outreach team member and a senior majoring in environmental studies. "Even down the road, students can apply what they've learned during the competition to their own homes and other spaces, being more conscientious of the environment and reducing utility bills."

Some of the conservation tips provided to residents of Baker and Libby residence halls include taking advantage of natural light as much as possible, using desk lamps rather than overhead lights, washing clothes in cold water, doing without trays in the dining halls and unplugging unused appliances from power outlets.

"Two weeks ago, I actually started unplugging appliances from the outlet just above my desk, which I thought would be a hassle, but it's actually really easy with the way I've got everything hooked up to a power strip," said George Brunet, a Libby resident and freshman in marketing. "My roommate and I have to pay all our own utilities next year, and we're definitely going to unplug power strips and use little lamps instead of overhead lights and stuff, because it'll make a big difference in our bills."

In addition to being educational, the Power Smackdown is designed to contribute to both state and campus goals of reducing energy use by 20 percent and water use by 10 percent by 2012, according to members of the energy outreach team.

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