Heating and Cooling
The largest percentage of energy used on a university campus (about 40%) goes towards heating and cooling indoor spaces, according to the U.S. Department of Energy1. Decreasing demand for cooling is key in minimizing spikes in summer power consumption and can go a long way in reaching our overall goal of a 15 percent reduction (or more) in power usage.Thermostats
If you can control the thermostat in your room, the suggested thermostat settings are 75°F in summer and 68-70°F in winter. A setting of 73°F in the summer uses 50% more energy than a setting of 78°F2.
Adjust your thermostat more radically when you are gone for the day; the typical residence room is unoccupied in the middle of the day. Adjust your thermostat when you are gone on extended breaks as well, like Spring Break.
Thermostat Management Tip: cranking the temperature down to a very low temperature doesn't cool an area faster. Thermostats and cooling systems work together to cool an area based on a fixed time to reach the setpoint temperature - same goes for heating3. Avoid the thermostat yo-yo effect. If you think the indoor temperature seems extremely cold or hot, Please contact your RA or your Area Maintenance Supervisor and alert them to the temperature situation. A simple repair can save a lot of energy and improve comfort.
Can you really feel a difference of two degrees on the thermostat? Watch this video from ABC News on winter thermostat settings, and how your thermostat can reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Some buildings are heated and cooled by steam and chilled water (instead of directly by electricity or natural gas). And in some buildings, Vanderbilt can centrally control the temperature set point. Thus, it is important to let your RA or your Area
Maintenance Supervisor know if the building seems unusually cold or hot, instead of opening windows, bringing in fans or space heaters to regulate the temperature (which uses even more energy)...or turning on the heat in the summer!
Conserving hot water conserves energy, too! Watch this video from Andrews University on how energy conservation and water conservation goes hand in hand.Air Vents and Space Heaters
Don't block air vents with paper or cardboard or accidentally block vents with bookcases or other items. As much as 25% more energy is required to distribute air if your vents are blocked4.
Avoid using space heaters. They are dangerous and waste energy! They can overload circuits; they are a fire hazard; and they are energy hogs. One electric space heater uses as much electricity as 45 fluorescent light fixtures5.Shades, Windows, and Clothing
Close shades and blinds during the hottest period of the day in the summer to keep heat out and cool air in. Open shades during the winter to take advantage of the natural heating. A major source of heat gain (increasing cooling demand in the summer) is the sun6.
Avoid opening windows in air conditioned or heated areas. If you need to open the windows, it could be a sign that the heating and air conditioning system is not working properly. Please contact your RA or your Area Maintenance Supervisor if you feel the need to open windows for temperature control.
Accept more seasonal indoor temperature settings to avoid expensive (and sometimes wasteful) settings, especially during the "energy spikes" of August and January. Dress for the season and in layers to help moderate your own personal temperature.
If Vanderbilt decreases its electricity demand for heating and air conditioning by 15%, it could avoid consuming up to 3.6 megawatt-hours of electricity in a day on peak demand days!But what does this mean?
3.6 megawatt-hours of electricity is the same amount of power consumed by 83 average-sized homes in Nashville in a day. That's a lot of juice, Commodore Fans.
For every megawatt-hour of electricity Vanderbilt purchases from its utility provider, 1,500 pounds of greenhouse gasses are emitted.
By not consuming 3.6 megawatt-hours of electricity for heating and cooling on a particular day, Vanderbilt avoids emitting almost 5,400 pounds of greenhouse gasses that same day.Check The Math
40% of power for heating and air conditioning
x 60 megawatt-hours consumption per day (on peak days) = 24 megawatt-hours
15% of 24 megawatt-hours = 3.6 megawatt-hours
Energy consumption of one average house in Nashville for a day = 0.043 megawatt-hours7
1 U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Office, Building Technologies Program. "University Buildings", 01/27/06.
2 Nashville Electric Service PowerNotes, July 2008.
3 Energy Star web page "Proper Use Guidelines for Programmable Thermostats", 2008.
4 Energy Star web page "Energy Star at Home and at Work" August 2007.
5 Carleton College web pages "Energy Management", October 2007.
6 ACC Environmental Consultants, "Energy Saving Measures for Office Building Tenants".
7 Nashville Electric Service web page "Residential Rates", 2008.