Students who live in the nine residence halls on the University of Northern Iowa campus in Cedar Falls reduced their energy use by 15% for one week in April. Nine students in the U.N.I. Honors Program organized the “U.N.I. Unplugged” event which ended on Earth Day. Jessica Moon is director of the program.

“Our results actually surprised us,” Moon said. “The students were hoping to see a 10% reduction. That was the goal they set for themselves.” The week-long event was actually a competition. Students in one residence hall, Shull Hall, reduced their energy use by 24%. Second place went to Hageman Hall with an energy use decrease of 22%.

The amount of energy saved was calculated through work with the U.N.I. Department of Residence by comparing each residence hall during the week of competition to a previous control week. “I know some of the residence halls turned out all the lights in the hallways so they could reduce energy that way,” Moon said. “They had hall secretaries using a small table lamp instead of an overhead light. They had students who were unplugging their refrigerators for the duration of the competition.”

Students in Shull and Hageman Hall received more than $1,600 worth of prizes from local businesses. But, Moon is hoping all students on campus will continue to change their energy habits. “The idea was to have a contest to have a fun way to highlight some of these issues, but it was really about the educational campaign…at the root of the students’ project,” Moon said.

Learn more about the project here:

Photo courtesy of UNI.