Your Tuesday Tip: 4 Easy Ways to be Cost and Energy Conscious

Turn off the lights and open up the curtains to save on energy. (Nieuw/Creative Commons)

Consume less, conserve more.

As college students, we tend to neglect or track our water, energy and electricity consumption, since it is technically our university's job to cover those bills. However, while we may not be accountable for paying those monthly electricity bills now, that responsibility is right around the corner. Thus, it is important to develop the habit of being energy conscious now: not only will these small changes add big savings to your electricity bills down the line, but they will also make a huge difference for our environment.

Here are four easy-to-do tips that can help kickstart these energy-efficient habits.

1. Unplug unused electronics and appliances

Even when electronics and appliances are turned off, they continue to gobble up energy. While not all devices can be unplugged when you’re out for the day, such as refrigerators or digital clocks, it is important to identify those that can be, such as phone chargers and lamps. According to BC Hydro, a corporation that operates hydroelectric facilities and thermal generating plants in Canada, “standby power,” or power that is consumed by electrical appliances while they are not actively used, can account for 10% of an average household’s electricity use.

2. Use natural light

The Energy Center of Wisconsin conducted an experiment on “daylighting,” or the use of windows or skylights for natural lighting, and found that using natural light produced significant annual savings per square foot in the building they tested in. By using natural light to illuminate your room when possible, you will reduce the need for artificial lighting during daylight hours.

3. Take 'navy showers'

These showers were used on navy ships that had limited fresh water. Crew members would turn on the water for 30 seconds, shut it off to lather, and rinse off in under a minute: a full body shower in under two minutes. By cutting your shower time, you can save a surprising amount of water and energy. According to the Sustainability office at Boston University, the average American uses 25,300 gallons of water per year. A typical shower uses about five gallons of water per minute; thus, if you shorten your shower by a mere two minutes, you will cut your water use by 10 gallons.

4. Take control of temperature

When you go to sleep or leave the house for the day, set your thermostat to lower temperatures to save energy and money. Despite popular belief, it takes less energy to warm up a cold room in the morning than it does to maintain a constant temperature throughout the night. Additionally, you can utilize the sun for free heat. Open up your shades or curtains during the daytime to allow heat into your home, and then close them when the sun goes down to reduce heat loss through the windows.

By implementing these small changes throughout your daily routine, you will be saving ample amounts of electricity, energy and money. If each individual performs such energy-efficient habits, we will be sparking a collective action on our campus and beyond to reduce our water and energy footprints.

How do you move the Planet Forward? Tweet us @planet_forward or contribute to the conversation with your own story.