Last year Eastern Kentucky University piloted a “winter schedule” for its employees, an energy saving plan where faculty and staff complete a five-day work schedule in four days to save money on utility costs. Last year, the winter schedule reduced energy consumption by approximately 796,800 kWh, saving the university $49,331 in utilities.
Steve Caudill, chief auxiliary services officer, said the winter schedule is a spin-off of EKU’s “summer schedule,” which began in 2017.
“The university was looking to find opportunities to set back the temperature in the summer. We started out with just half a day Fridays and eventually decided we could make it just a four-day work week,” said Caudill.
The success of the “summer schedule” prompted the start of the winter schedule because there was a longer term where classes were not in session. According to Caudill, anyone whose job allows them to participate in “winter schedule” can participate. Caudill said some EKU jobs do not allow employees to take Fridays off.
“Winter schedule” is from Nov. 28, 2021 to Jan. 15, 2022. The university’s operating hours will be 7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday. During this time, Caudill said the university encourages staff members to use vacation time.
“Sometimes staff members may have time off but feel as if they need to be on campus and ultimately not use their vacation time. During the summer and winter schedule the university would love for our staff to take the time they have off if that is what they would like to do,” said Caudill.
Last year the university saved $49,331 dollars. Caudill said this will be each year’s savings goal.
“The university would like to save as much as possible going forward but we understand sometimes there are factors out of our control. We just need to do everything we can to be as efficient as possible,” Caudill said.
The university has also more energy efficient optimized their buildings schedules to go along with the summer and winter schedule.
Caudill does not think he would change anything with either summer or winter schedule at the moment. “I think it’s pretty good. We thought we were doing well at just half days and now we moved to four days a week during the schedules.”
Julie George, dean of Libraries at EKU, has participated in the summer and winter schedule since 2017. Unlike other departments, only some of the employees in the library are able to participate in the summer and winter schedules.
Some staff members must work a flex schedule. This includes working in-person at the library and working from home to provide online chat help to students who are completing online summer or winter courses There are also librarians who work on Fridays to assist students that have appointments.
The library can be shut down during the summer and winter schedule. The library has a special door counter that tracks the library’s busiest hours. This allows them to adjust their schedule accordingly.
George noted that it can be more difficult to get everything done in four days compared to five. “Sometimes it is tough to get everything done in four days but knowing that you have an extra day off makes you want to work a little harder.”
The only negative thing George said about the summer and winter schedule is that some people can have trouble altering their schedule.
“Some people cannot change their schedule due to having kids or other commitments like taking care of a parent or loved one. Outside of scheduling issues, I think summer and winter schedule is a wonderful thing that EKU is doing,” said George.