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Energy Conservation Tips From The Eco-Dores!

Posted by on Monday, November 28, 2011 in Archives, News.

VU students have opportunity to reduce energy consumption

By Linda Zhang, Eco-Dore, Memorial House

The Eco-Dores peer residential education program, a collaborative effort between Vanderbilt-€™s Sustainability and Environmental Management  Office (SEMO) and the Office of Housing and Residential Education (OHARE), strives to encourage environmental awareness and sustainable living among undergraduate students.


Each Eco-Dore volunteer is given guidance and information during monthly educational sessions in which they will be introduced that month-€™s theme and brainstorm actions that they could implement in their own residence hall. The goal is that residents of each hall will find their own way to respond to the theme and their own best solution.   During our most recent meeting in November, Eco-Dores learned about the production and consumption of energy at Vanderbilt and ways students can reduce our energy use on campus.


In 2010, Vanderbilt University consumed over 385,000 megawatt-hours of electricity. That-€™s roughly the amount of electricity consumed by approximately 24,500 homes in the Nashville area last year! How is this energy used?   According to the U.S. Department of Energy, at the typical university:

  • 40% of energy is used for heating and cooling
  • 20% of energy is used for water heating
  • 20% of energy is used for lighting
  • 20% of energy is used for other miscellaneous purposes (such as computers, electronics, office and research equipment, elevators, etc.)


Making even the smallest changes in our lives can still help make a big difference in conserving energy. Here are some tips on how students can save energy in residential areas:


1. If you have a thermostat that you can control, keep the thermostat set to reasonable temperatures (68 °F in the winter and 75 °F in the summer). Open up shades during the winter to let sunlight in and take advantage of natural heating.


2. Take shorter showers which are a double win, saving both water and energy. Wash full loads of clothes in cold water whenever possible.


3. Turn off the lights when you leave the room, including your dorm room, restrooms, showers, kitchens, and common areas. By turning them off even for just a few minutes, you can significantly reduce energy demand.


3. Unplug electronics from the wall when they are not in use, especially those that are rarely used. Many appliances continue to draw standby or -€œvampire-€ power even when they are turned off but plugged in, which creates a lot of energy waste.   You can also try plugging them into a power strip. So when you-€™re done charging your phone or using your computer, printer, or microwave, make sure to unplug these items and any associated chargers. Standby power amounts to 5-7% of average U.S. household electricity use.


4. According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, the average amount of energy an elevator uses for each floor travelled is about 350 watts of electricity, or enough to power a 100-watt light bulb for 3.5 hours! Take the stairs instead; you will save a lot of energy, and get some exercise as well.


5. Program sleep or hibernate modes on computers, printers, and other electronic items. Better yet -€“ turn them off when not in use!


Don-€™t forget to unplug everything (refrigerators, microwaves, lamps, computer and cell phone chargers, etc.) in your dorm, moderate your thermostat more radically, and make sure that the lights are turned off before leaving for the upcoming Winter Break!


Vanderbilt-€™s efforts to reduce energy use on campus include: energy efficiency improvements and retrofits in existing buildings on campus; installation of efficient systems in new buildings constructed on campus (U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification); and education of campus occupants in utility-conserving behaviors (ThinkOne Energy Conservation Campaign, Eco-Dores Peer Residential Education Program, Commons Cup Energy Competition).


More information on how to conserve energy in specific settings is available on the ThinkOne website. To learn more about the Eco-Dores peer residential education program, contact Kendra Abkowitz.


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