Tips for Dorms and College Housing
Even though you may not be responsible for your own energy costs as a college student, there are plenty of simple, low- and no-cost actions you can take to reduce your energy impact and help Virginia achieve its goal to reduce electric energy consumption by 10%.
Here are a few energy-saving tips to get started, whether you’re living in a dorm or off-campus housing:
- During back-to-school dorm and apartment shopping, make sure to look for the ENERGY STAR label when purchasing a new mini-fridge, computer, television, lamp and other electronics. These products work just as well but use much less energy. An ENERGY STAR television, for example, is 25 percent more efficient than a non-ENERGY STAR model!
- Use Power Strips instead of plugging gadgets directly into the wall. It’s better for your electronics — and the environment — to turn your electronics off when you are not going to use them for a while, like at night or when traveling for the weekend. Plugging everything into a power strip makes this easier by creating a central “turn-off” point.
- Turn off lights when you’re not in your room. Go the extra step and switch from incandescent to more energy efficient bulbs like CFLs and LEDs, even for your desk and floor lamps. Prices have come down significantly on efficient bulbs and they’ll last 10-50 times longer.
- Power down your computer, monitors and printers when you aren’t using them. Turning off screen savers, utilizing “sleep” mode controls and developing nighttime shut down protocols will reduce wasted energy.
- Even if your charger is not plugged into your phone, it can still suck energy if plugged into the wall. This is called “vampire power” and a typical dorm room uses 20-40 watts of energy when appliances are not in use but left plugged in — that’s up to $100 in added energy costs each year.
- On warm days, open your windows to increase ventilation instead of using air conditioners or fans. In the colder months, reduce heating when you head to class and before you go to sleep – you won’t notice the change and can save energy in the process.
If you live off-campus in a rental property, consider making some of these simple changes to conserve energy and curb costs:
- When hunting for an apartment or house, ask if you are responsible for your own utility bill. If so, ask to see a sample bill and the average monthly cost. Energy bills can add up especially in the coldest and warmest months of the year and there may be opportunities to save. If the cool air brings drafts, discuss a rent incentive to help seal air leaks. It won’t take much time, but can save on utility bills and make your home more comfortable.
- Lower your thermostat when you’re headed to class or work. Turning the thermostat back 10°–15° while you are asleep or away from the home can save about 5–15 percent a year on your heating bill — a savings of up to $180 a year.
- Be sure that your furniture is not blocking vents in your room. This will force the heating and air conditioning to work harder to keep the room at a comfortable temperature.
- Take shorter showers. A ten-minute hot shower uses about 3000 watt hours to heat the water. And if you notice faucets or showerheads leaking, notify the property owner as soon as possible to address the issue.
- Wash clothes at night to avoid peak usage hours. Run your washing machine and dryer in full loads and cold water, clean the lint filter each time before drying and where possible, consider air drying to save on energy costs.
- Use fans to keep your home warm. Ceiling fans usually allow you to keep your thermostat set 3° to 5° higher without sacrificing comfort. During winter, operate the ceiling fan at a low speed in the clockwise direction, which forces warm air down into the occupied space.
For more energy saving tips for rental properties, check out our tips for renters.
Source: U.S. Department of Energy