Saving Energy in the Residence Halls

by Dymphna Ghasarah

Dymphna Ghasarah is a graduate student in College of Applied Health and Sciences at UIC. As the social media and communications intern for the Sustainability Internship Program, she promotes sustainability news and programs, coordinates social media takeovers for her fellow SIP students to share their projects, and tracks social media statistics to measure engagement.

It’s the beginning of a new semester and school year, and it’s exciting to see what amazing things will come as your first year of college begins. The excitement of making new friends, getting educated, and of course, having fun while learning how to navigate campus will create memories that will last you a lifetime.

While you’re enjoying UIC life, there are many ways you can give back to the university; one of which is saving energy! Saving energy in your dorm space can save the university money and lower your carbon footprint. Here are five easy tips to remember once you settle in to your residence hall:

 

Top 5 Tips to conserve energy as a student living on-campus:

Set of washing machines

1. Use cold water instead of hot water for laundry!

Cold water works fine for most clothing, unless stated otherwise. About 80 percent of the energy it takes to do a load of laundry is consumed by simply heating up the water to wash your clothes.

The use of cold water reduces wrinkles on your clothes, which saves energy costs on ironing or steaming. Plus, on the day of a big presentation, ironing is the last thing you want to do. Cold water also helps remove stains better and it is less likely to make your clothes fade or shrink. Unless you have a legitimate reason for washing with hot water, reasons like bacteria infestation or really stinky (I mean gutter-stinky clothes), opt for cold water. It saves energy, and your clothes last longer. It’s a win- win!

2. Unplug electrical appliances that aren’t in use!

There are hidden costs to leaving your coffee maker and hair dryer plugged in! Leaving electrical appliances on and plugged in when they aren’t being utilized means they are still using energy–and for no reason!

In case you didn’t know, some of the most significant hidden costs of fossil fuels are from the air emissions that occur when they are burned. Fossil fuels emit carbon dioxide and other harmful pollutants into the environment when burned. Also, it’s simply a good safety’s practice to unplug your appliances when not in use, to prevent any electricity accidents!

 

Dymphna Ghasarah with her poster presentation on publicizing sustainability programs

3. Share a fridge!

Why have two half empty fridges in the same dorm room when you could have one full one? Let’s face it, not every beverage that needs to go into the refrigerator. Making smart choices of what needs to be in the fridge will help you create some room in your fridge for your roommate. Sharing a fridge with your roommate saves energy and creates more space for other things in your dorm room.

4. Turn off the heating or the air conditioner if you’ll be gone for long!

If you’ll be out for a whole day, a weekend, or an entire break, make sure you turn off the air conditioner or heating. There’s no need to be cooling a room if there’s nobody there! Once you begin paying for your own electrical bills, you’ll be thankful that you practiced good AC and heating habits.

5. Close your doors if you have a heater or air conditioner on!

Opening your windows and doors will let the air out, making the heater or air conditioner to work twice as hard to maintain the desirable temperature of your room. If you’re a social person and want to leave your dorm door open to make friends and invite people over, just make sure to turn the AC or heating off while you do so! Again, your future self will thank you for not being lazy with your energy practices!