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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Reducing Your Electrical Footprint

Some days I really love my job. This is one of those days because I got to spend part of my time working on a list of ways for university students to reduce their electricity use for an environmental challenge that's coming up.

Residence provides an interesting challenge for power use since it is quite different than living at home. For example, you never see a power bill. You rarely cook a meal for yourself, but you probably have a fridge and microwave in your bed room. Your computer is probably a 24/7 work centre and entertainment system.

Here's my list. Did I miss anything really critical?

1. Replace any incandescent bulbs with CFLs.

2. Turn off lights when not in use (when leaving the room, etc). Use task lighting where possible (i.e. a reading light for reading, rather than a desk light and ceiling light).

3. Set computers to go into standby mode or turn off when not in use for a 1/2 hour or more.

4. Use a power bar to turn off devices that use vampire power (like stereos, tvs, printers, computer peripherals, gaming consoles, etc).

"Standby power, also called vampire power, vampire draw, phantom load, or leaking electricity, refers to the electric power consumed by electronic appliances while they are switched off or in a standby mode. A very common "electricity vampire" is a power adapter which has no power-off switch. Some such devices offer remote controls and digital clock features to the user, while other devices, such as power adapters for laptop computers and other electronic devices, consume power without offering any features." - Wikipedia.

5. Hang dry your clothes when possible. If you must use a dryer, follow the manufacture's directions, use a proper full load, and clean the lint trap before and after every load.

5b. Wash clothes in cold water. Use an appropriate detergent.

6. Unplug chargers (cell phone, ipod, etc) when they are not charging a device (they consume standby power).

7. Take the stairs and not the elevator.

8. Unplug everything when going away for the weekend.

9. Study in the library where the lights are on already.

10. Open your curtains in the day and use natural light instead of the overhead light. Close the curtains at night to reduce heat loss and increase privacy.
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