How to save energy during this year's IUPUI Energy Challenge

For the first time, two of the busiest buildings on campus are part of the IUPUI Energy Challenge.

The contest has expanded to include the Campus Center and University Library along with two residence halls -- North Hall and University Tower.

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The IUPUI Energy Challenge starts Sept. 30. Photo by Getty Images

The Energy Challenge runs from Sept. 30 to Oct. 18, and the energy use of the participating buildings will be tracked on an online energy dashboard. The winner will be added to the challenge's NCAA-style banner in the Campus Center and will get a building party -- and, of course, bragging rights. Plus, last year's winner, Ball Hall, wasn't able to participate this year due to ongoing renovations, so it's any building's game.

Inside IUPUI talked to Amber Greaney, the energy intern for IUPUI Sustainability, and Cristina Padilla, the office's sustainability engagement coordinator, about tips to reduce your energy use during the challenge.

And these tips apply regardless of how much time you spend in the four participating buildings. Hopefully, people will continue to practice them even after the challenge is over, Greaney said, adding that the three-week contest is the perfect amount of time to build a habit.

Here's their advice:

Start when opening the door.

Unless you need it, don't press the handicap button to open a door. Not only does that save the energy used to open the door, but it also reduces the amount of treated indoor air that escapes the building because the door is open for less time. And if there's a revolving door, choose that one instead.

Take the stairs.

Elevators and escalators use energy, so use the stairs when you can. In some buildings, the stairs can feel hidden, so try to make it a point to find them.

Shake it off.

Instead of using the air dryers that use energy, or paper towels that create waste, try shaking the excess water from your hands after washing them. And if possible, use cold or cool water, especially when doing laundry, instead of hot water to save the energy needed to heat up the boilers.

Use natural light.

When walking into a room, check to see if there's enough natural light before turning on the lights. And if you do turn on the lights, make sure to turn them off when leaving the room. This includes offices, meeting rooms and the one-person bathrooms. And try to use LED lightbulbs everywhere you can -- they use 90 percent less power than incandescent bulbs.

Unplug.

Even when appliances aren't being used, they're using energy -- so try to unplug them when you're done. An easy way to do this is to plug everything into a power strip and then unplug the strip or turn it off on your way out the door. When it comes to computers, make sure to turn off your monitor at the end of the day and shut down your personal computers.

Excited to save energy?

The challenge kicks off with a "Turn Down for Watt" party from 5 to 8 p.m. Sept. 30 at Lockefield Green. The first hour is an "Amazing Race"-style challenge across campus that starts and ends at Lockefield Green. Teams of 2 to 3 people will pick a building to represent and can win up to 1,000 KWh in carbon offsets for their building in the Energy Challenge.

The kickoff party from 6 to 8 p.m. includes music, games and food -- and all the food will be "rescued" food provided by the Campus Kitchen at IUPUI. There will also be local resources such as Indianapolis Power and Light, which will give out LED lightbulbs and energy-saving kits to all attendees.