The Kill-a-Watt Competition at University of Central Florida

You are here

The Kill-a-Watt Competition at University of Central Florida
At the University of Central Florida, students have taken it upon themselves to create a culture of energy efficiency. Each year, different dorm buildings compete to see who can save the most. In 2009, the school saw a total savings of $27,000. As of March 2010, they've saved over $24,000 this year alone.
Chris Castro, Alexandra Kennedy, Margaret Lo, David Norvell, Keith Coelho, John Hitt PhD
Energy Department Video

CHRIS CASTRO:  Last summer, I was an intern at the Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and I got a chance to actually witness firsthand what we’re doing at a national level for sustainability, energy efficiency and renewable energy.  It gave me a great opportunity to learn as a student what I could do at my campus to outreach to these students and get them involved with the clean-energy economy.

My first link was actually was actually to work with UCF Sustainability in a – in a large energy competition called Kill-a-Watt.

ALEXANDRA KENNEDY:  Residence halls are competing against each other of equal size to maintain a greater energy savings.  At the end of each month, residents receive $50 scholarships from SGA for attending these events.

MARGARET LO:  These are the 14 buildings that are achieving at least a 15 percent or greater reduction in energy savings – (off mic).  Normally, we have it for a one-month period.  This time, we extended it to 2 1/2 months and we wanted to encourage greater student awareness and engagement.  So we’re doing this seminar for people to learn more about how to save energy and how they can get rewards from doing great efforts.

DAVID NORVELL:  In Central Florida, we’re in a predominately in a cooling mode.  So we would ask the students when we’re in the cooling mode to be able to raise their set point to a number that’s energy-conscious.  Somewhere around 74 degrees is what we’re looking for for a set point on cooling.

And then when they go to class, which – students are away most of the time during the day – raise that set point to raise that up to as much as 80 degrees.

MS. KENNEDY:  When you’re leaving for class, make sure to unplug your curling iron and blow dryer because not only does it waste a lot of energy, but it’s a fire hazard.

MR. CASTRO:  Another large energy consumer is appliances that we plug into the wall.  And the problem is, is a lot of the times, whether or not they’re plugged into an actual appliance, they’re using power, like, through something called vampire or phantom power.  Plug this in to a power cord and when not in use – let’s say you go to class – you can simply turn this power cord right off, shutting off the energy to all of these plugs and allowing us to conserve just that much more while you’re in class.

Pressing that elevator button uses energy automatically.  If you start using the stairs, not only is it energy-conservative, but it actually is good for you.

In 2009, we did the Kill-a-Watt Competition in the month of February, where we saved an average of 50 percent in each building and a total of $27,000 in our housing complexes.

KEITH COELHO:  Students noticed overall really good savings.  It’s not necessarily based on the building or habits.  It’s more or less the – we’ve noticed that it does change each year.  Some buildings you get a little bit more support and coverage from the students; you get a little bit more effort, you should say.  But overall we’ve seen really good savings from a lot of the buildings.  We have several winners every year that reach the tier of, say, 20 (percent) or 18 (percent) to 20, sometimes even a little bit more than that, percent savings.

MR. CASTRO:  That last month, if your building does 20 percent, you actually can turn in a nest egg for $200 and – (inaudible) –

MS.:  When you save like 15 (percent) or 20 percent of energy, and that next time if you – they’re going to a next, like, drawing or something for the next building that saves more and that we could possibly, like, win stuff and – (off mic) –

MS.:  Please save some more money –

MS.:  Please –

MS.:  – because I don’t want to tuition hikes.

MS.:  Me, neither.

MS.:  I still have a little time left here and – (off mic) –

MS.:  Me, too.

MS.:  So I just want them to save money  and just –

MS.:  Knock my tuition down.

MR. CASTRO:  When it came down to it, the savings that we saw in these – in these buildings were very small tasks performed by the students that collectively led to a drastic savings of $27,000 and an average of 50 percent.

JOHN HITT:  It just is a wonderful way of helping them appreciate the numerous ways in which we can save and conserve energy.  You know, (your ?) – the big energy problems we’re facing, some will be solved by big advances in technology, but a lot are going to be solved by the constant attention to detail, the little ways that we can all save and conserve energy.