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Sustainably Staying Warm

By Sustainability Office on February 18, 2019

It’s no secret that Colgate students face quite a challenge staying warm during the frigid central New York winters. However, heating is incredibly energy intensive and greatly contributes to Colgate’s greenhouse gas emissions.

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In 2017, over 50% of the university’s carbon emissions were associated with heating. Colgate’s heat comes from multiple sources including wood chips, natural gas, fuel oil, and kerosene. In order to heat campus as sustainably as possible, Colgate has recently made upgrades to campus infrastructure. For example, natural gas replaced fuel oil in the townhouses during summer of 2018. Although natural gas is a non-renewable resource, it is still much less carbon intensive than fuel oil. Additionally, the heating plant has recently been upgraded to support more efficient wood chip burning, which is a carbon neutral source of heat. These upgrades will help to reduce future carbon emissions.

While the university has taken steps to reduce carbon emissions associated with the operational side of heating, students can play a large role in reducing the amount of heating that is actually used. Here are some tips to help you both stay warm and decrease your carbon footprint on campus:

  • Make sure all windows are closed when the heat is on
  • Don’t turn your thermostat above 70 degrees
  • Use a blanket and wear warm socks
  • Lower the temperature a few degrees when you’re not in your room
  • Wear warm winter clothes when you are outside to maintain a healthy body temperature so that you are not tempted to turn up the heat after returning inside
  • Turn the thermostat down to 55 degrees if you won’t be in your housing for an extended period of time, such as over Spring Break

Establishing healthy heating habits now will also benefit you later in life when you’re responsible for paying your own heating bill. According to energy.gov, lowering the thermostat by 10-15 degrees for 8 hours per day will help you reduce your bill by 5-15% per year.

Heating is a necessary part of life, especially during the Spring semester at Colgate, but is unfortunately a large contributor to carbon emissions. Therefore, it is important to be mindful of how much energy we use to heat our rooms and do what we can to stay warm sustainably.

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