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Colgate Unplugged

By Sustainability Office on November 1, 2016
-Ashlea Raemer ’18


Tomorrow marks the beginning of Colgate Unplugged, an annual competition to reduce energy usage on campus. All residence halls monitored on Colgate’s building dashboard will be competing against each other and the building that reduces their energy consumption the most will win free pizza for their residents. Although the competition is designed for students living in the residence halls, we encourage all members of the Colgate community to partake in this year’s event to help Colgate cut energy consumption and take a step toward carbon neutrality. Here are 13 ways you can use less energy:

  1.  Turn off the lights when you leave your room.

This is perhaps the easiest tip on the list. By simply flipping the switch on your way out the door, you can save enough energy to reduce 0.15 pounds from your carbon footprint every hour.

  1. Switch to LED light bulbs.

LED light bulbs use at least 80% less energy than traditional incandescents and last 25 times as long. This simple switch could not only help your residence hall win the competition, but could reduce energy usage far beyond the competition time limits.

  1. Study in common areas.

Studying in common spaces like the library can allow you to take advantage of lights that are going to be on whether you use them or not. By sharing lights with other people rather than working alone in your room, you can make the energy it takes to power each light bulb go further.

  1. Unplug all chargers and appliances when not in use.

Cords and appliances use energy even if they aren’t in active use. The easiest way to prevent this waste of energy is to simply unplug these devices when you’re done using them. Want to streamline this process? Plug everything into one power strip with a switch and you can disconnect them all from power with one step.

  1. Don’t overcharge your devices.

Just like in the previous tip, if your device is plugged in even though it is fully charged it will continue to use energy.

  1. Avoid doing laundry with less than a full load.

Waiting to do your laundry until you have a full load will reduce the total number of loads you have to do and therefore your energy use.

  1. Wash your clothes in cold water and air dry your clothes.

75% of the energy used in one washing machine cycle is for heating the water, making the choice to use cold water an effective way to lower your energy consumption. Magnify this reduction by skipping the dryer altogether.

  1. When you need to print, use a campus printer instead of a personal printer.

Campus printers are plugged in and on whether you use them or not, so take advantage of them – especially when campus printing is free and personal printers contribute to your building’s energy usage.

  1. If you’re able to control the thermostat in your room, lower the temperature a few degrees.

Lowering the temperature in your room a few degrees will be a barely noticeable adjustment for you that can help your residence hall lower its energy use the most. Looking to do more? Lower the temperature 8-10 degrees when you know you’ll be away for a few hours.

  1. Make sure your windows are closed.

If your room is still cold despite your thermostat being set to a comfortable temperature you may want to check your windows, if they aren’t closed properly they could be making your room cold and releasing heat outside. If you can’t set your temperature from within your room and it is too warm, do not open your windows as doing so will result in the waste of energy. Instead, contact buildings and grounds to see about lowering the temperature in your room.

  1. Take shorter showers.

The average shower wastes about 40% of the energy required to heat the water. By taking a shorter shower you can reduce this waste and your building’s overall energy usage.

  1. Live in a building with an elevator? Try taking the stairs instead.

While each skipped elevator ride may not save that much energy, if everyone in the building skips the elevator and takes the stairs, throughout the competition that small change will add up to a significant energy savings.

  1. Share these tips with your fellow residents!

Your participation will help your residence hall and the university, but to do the most to conserve energy, get others involved! Encouraging others who live in your building to do the same is the best way to help your dorm win and to help Colgate take a step closer to carbon neutrality.

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