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Energy Saving Tips

Wondering how you can save energy in your dorm or office on campus or in your home?  Check out these energy conservation tips!


Lighting accounted for approximately 17.1% of electricity use in commercial buildings in 2012, according to the Department of Energy.

  • Make use of natural lighting as much as possible.  Adjustable blinds can let in light while reducing glare.
  • Change to compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) in lamps and equipment when possible.  CFLs use 75% less energy and last six to ten times longer than incandescent bulbs.  According to Energy Star, replacing a single incandescent bulb with a CFL will keep approximately 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere over the life of the bulb.
  • Turn off lights when areas are unoccupied, especially in common spaces like kitchens and bathrooms.  Assign someone in your office to perform a lighting sweep to turn off all the lights at the end of the day!

Heating and Cooling

Heating, cooling, and ventilating buildings accounted for 32.7% of electricity use in commercial buildings in 2012.

  • Keep thermostats set to reasonable temperatures.  Suggested temperatures are 75°F in the summer and 68°F in the winter.  When you leave for the day, weekend, or an extended period of time, consider moderating your thermostat more radically.
  • Dress for the season and in layers so you can moderate your own temperature.
  • 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 natural heating.
  • If the indoor temperature in your area seems extremely cold or hot, call Plant Operations (4-9675) or VUMC Plant Services (2-2041) to inform them of the temperature extremes. A simple repair can save a lot of energy and improve comfort.
  • Don’t block air vents with bookcases, large plants, or other items.

Equipment Use

Computers, equipment and other “plug-in” devices consumed approximately 13.6% of the electricity in commercial buildings in 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

  • Activate sleep or hibernate modes on computers, printers, copiers, and fax machines in your office and at home. Better yet – turn them off when not in use!  Today’s devices are designed for sleep mode settings and frequent shut-downs.  Instructions for adjusting power settings on your computer.
  • Turn computers, printers, copiers, and other machinery off overnight and on weekends. If you must leave a CPU on, turn off the monitor.
  • Unplug electronics from the wall when they are not in use, especially those that are rarely used.  Many appliances continue to draw power even when they are turned off.  You can also try plugging them into a power strip.
  • When replacing old computers, printers, TVs, freezers, stoves, or refrigerators, purchase EnergyStar-rated models.
  • Instead of using the elevator, take the stairs. You’ll save energy and get some exercise.  (The average office elevator consumes 350 watts of electricity to travel from one floor to the next, according to the U.S. Department of the Interior.  That’s enough energy to light a 100-watt light bulb for 3.5 hours.)

Energy Conservation in Laboratories

  • The typical lab consumes four to five times more energy than the same-sized office or classroom.
  • Chemical fume hoods (of which Vanderbilt has more than 800) are the biggest energy consumer in research settings.  While it is important to have the sashes open to the proper location to protect lab personnel when using fume hoods, 20% (or more) energy reductions can be achieved by closing the sashes when not in use.
  • Unplug battery chargers and equipment when not in use.
  • Turn off equipment when it is not in use and encourage others to do the same. For sophisticated equipment, make it simple for co-workers to turn off equipment by posting procedures for proper start-up and shutdown on or near equipment.
  • Turn off centrifuges overnight and over the weekend.
  • Provide freezers/refrigerators with proper spacing (2-3 inches minimum clearance from walls or obstructions).
  • Eliminate unnecessary freezers/refrigerators by getting rid of items that are no longer needed and combining contents into fewer freezers/refrigerators. (Please contact Plant Services or Plant Operations if your department needs to get rid of an appliance.)
  • Instead of buying a freezer/refrigerator for additional space, eliminate old samples and solutions from existing freezers/refrigerators.
  • Keep refrigerators and freezers organized (give each person a section) so that clean up and removal of old samples is easier. Before a group moves out of your area, ask them to get rid of unnecessary samples and condense their items into the smallest space possible.
  • When purchasing a new refrigerator, invest in an EnergyStar-rated replacement.

More information on how to conserve energy in specific settings is available on the ThinkOne website.