How to be More Energy Efficient at University
University is an exciting time in anyone’s life. It’s the chance to visit new places, meet new people, and experience new things. Each year thousands of young people move into University halls of residence, or rent private properties, with many students living away from home for the first time. Saving energy at University might not be your biggest priority, amongst all the studying and socialising, but we believe that everyone can do their part to reduce energy consumption and save our planet’s resources.
You should also consider the fact that energy costs are rising – the experts at Nexus Energy Solutions predict that “by 2020 gas and electricity bills will be as much as 20 percent higher than they were in 2014.” Reducing the amount of energy you use is therefore also a great way to lower your living costs and save money, all while doing your bit to help the environment!
The effects of global warming on our environment
Global warming is already having a measurable effect on the planet – the polar ice sheets are melting, sea levels are rising, and there are obvious increases in average temperatures all across the world. Scientists warn that if temperatures continue to rise, then there will be devastating environmental consequences on our planet. It is therefore time that we all take responsibility for our planet and join the battle against climate change!
There is the potential for students living within University accommodation to save a considerable amount of energy and carbon emissions, through simple changes. According to the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs, “even a 5% reduction across 506,000 rooms in halls of residence would equate to savings of £4.7m of energy and 25,640 tonnes of CO2.”
Here are some tips on how you can become more energy efficient at University:
Try to limit your electricity usage
Reducing the amount of electricity you use will lower your carbon emissions, whilst also saving you money on energy costs. If you’re out, or not using something, then make sure you turn it off from the wall – this includes computers, lights, and any other electronics. Spending less time on electronics and getting rid of any unnecessary gadgets is another great way to reduce your electricity usage. You should also try dimming the brightness on your mobile phone and turning off 3G/4G/Bluetooth to save electricity and money on charging.
Turn off your lights
It might sound simple, but make sure that you always turn your lights off when you leave your room. Ensure that lights are also turned off in any common spaces, such as kitchens and bathrooms. You should try to make use of natural lighting as much as possible to reduce the need to turn lights on during the day – adjustable blinds can let in light easily while reducing glare.
You could also consider replacing light bulbs with energy efficient ones, such as LEDs. These are far more efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs because they use less energy. Replacing your lighting with low energy LED lights will use around 90% less energy and also last around 10-20 times longer.
Reduce water wastage
According to CarbonTrack “hot water can make up to 30% of your home electricity bill.” Reducing the amount of water you use is therefore a great way to lower your overall energy usage. Try to take shorter showers, and always choose a shower over a bath. You should also get into the habit of turning off the tap while you are brushing your teeth.
If you have a dishwasher, then make sure you put the machine on ECO mode to help minimise the energy used in the washing process. You should also try to wash all dirty dishes at the same time, ideally just once per day, in order to reduce water wastage.
Remember that electricity is a very expensive way to heat water, and so when you’re boiling the kettle, make sure that you only put in as much water as you need. You could even look at purchasing an Eco kettle, which does the measuring for you to ensure that you are not wasting water.
Recycle your waste
Recycling ensures that less energy is used in the production, transportation, and disposal of products, and means that less waste ends up in landfills. As recycling saves energy, it also reduces greenhouse gas emissions, which helps to tackle climate change. Ensure that you are properly recycling your waste to reduce your carbon footprint.
Manage your home temperature
Experts at London Drugs explain how “heating makes up about 50% of your energy bill, and is the single largest use of energy in most homes. Controlling the thermostat is one of the easiest and most economical ways to control your energy costs. The lower the temperature you set for heating, the more money you will save. Setting the thermostat back from 21° C to 16° C at night can result in energy savings of up to ten per cent.”
In colder months, try putting on extra layers, instead of automatically turning the heating up. Also make sure that you turn the thermostat right down when you are leaving for the holidays or going home for the weekend, as there will be no one there to benefit from it.
Reduce fuel usage
If you have a car with you at University, then try to only drive it when necessary, and instead opt to walk or take public transport on shorter journeys. This is a cheaper way to travel, and also helps the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Use a microwave instead of an oven
It is much more environmentally friendly to cook food in a microwave, instead of an oven, as microwaves don’t need time to heat up and they cook food quicker. This also makes microwaves far cheaper to run! If you do have to use the oven, then try to cook everyone’s food together and then leave the oven door open once you have finished cooking, to help heat your house.
Wash clothes at a lower temperature
Heating the water in the washing machine accounts for a large percentage of the energy that washing machines use. Reducing the temperature by just 10°C will reduce energy consumption, help the environment, and save you money on energy bills. According to Harvard University, lowering the temperature on your washing machine not only extends the lifespan and vibrancy of your clothing, it also saves 90% of the energy that would have been used to heat the water.”
Washing powder technology is now designed to work effectively at lower temperatures,, so washing at higher temperatures is unnecessary. You should also remember to put your washing machine on Eco mode, and try to wait until you have a full load before washing your clothes.
University is an exciting time, full of thrilling new experiences, and probably your first opportunity to live independently away from home. However it is extremely important, especially given the current environmental decline, to be conscious of your habits and their effects on the environment. As you can see above, there is plenty that you can do to reduce the amount of emissions you contribute, and help the environment, all while saving you money on energy costs!