It’s almost Earth Day! Which means dorms all over the country will engage in the energy conservation challenge: an attempt to reduce energy use by having dorms compete to save the most energy in a given time period. If you’re that guy that tends to leave the light on when you leave for class, here are some great tips on how to win your dorm’s challenge.
1. Change your light bulbs
Head to your local hardware store; and buy energy saving light bulbs as opposed to traditional electricity guzzling bulbs. Most energy saving light bulbs use a quarter of the energy that traditional light bulbs use. Though you might not want to drop $10 on a light bulb, your wallet will thank you in the long run. Over its lifespan, an energy saving bulb can save you about $92.
2. Turn off your air conditioner or fan
Crack the dorm window or leave your door open. Save energy and use that open door to become a little more social. If you’re one of those people who can only sleep with a fan on, invest in a battery-powered version. Just make sure you stock up on double A’s.
3. Invest in a smart power strip
Many products that require energy suffer from excess vampire power. Just by being plugged in, they suck in energy even if they’re switched off. A smart power strip makes sure that this excess energy does not go to waste by diverting power from products in standby mode. Unplug your smartphone and try having a real conversation with your roommate for once.
4. Get a solar-powered charger
You can finally harness the power of the sun. It works just as effectively as an outlet but without all of the energy consumption and can be found on Amazon for around $20. It works great for small things like a smartphone or iPod; just don’t expect to charge your MacBook.
5. Turn off the lights and lift the shades
There’s nothing like a little natural light. Everyone knows that as a freshman you’re playing video games all day, so you might as well open the window and get some fresh air.
6. Air dry your laundry
Dryers are one of the most energy consuming appliances. If you can get everyone in your hall to air dry clothes once in a while, you’re almost guaranteed to win the challenge. While you may not have a clothesline, you can either hang some clothes on your door or chair, or invest in a cheap drying rack that you can get from Amazon or a local appliance store. If you don’t win, at least grandma will be proud.
7. Take a shorter shower
A ten-minute shower uses approximately 3000 watts of energy to heat the water. Cutting down on showers will definitely help you attain victory and allow you to sleep in later and make it to your 8 a.m. (maybe).
8. Change the settings on your computer
There are settings on most computers that can increase efficiency and use less energy. Specifically, have your computer go into sleep mode sooner or turn down screen brightness. Do you really need your laptop lit up like the fourth of July at 2 a.m.?
9. Turn your refrigerator down
According to Energy Star, refrigerators can account for almost 20 percent of household energy use. In a dorm, since most rooms only have smaller refrigerators, it may not be as significant but turning it down can still save a lot of energy. Turn down the knob a little. How cold do you really need your beer, anyway?
Although, this may not be ethical, it is effective. Depending on how you’re being measured, month-to-month or week-to-week, this method will work. The first week, use as much energy as you can. Then the next week, use a very little amount and conserve as much as possible. It will look like your room or hall has improved the most and you will be crowned champion. You might offend your tree hugger sensibilities, but how badly do you want to win?