Before you leave for winter break
Winter break is around the corner. You are probably already thinking about your travels, or spending time at home with friends and family. Before you go, remember most of campus is empty, so unplug and turn off appliances; close curtains to better insulate your room or office, and turn down the thermostat. Being aware of how your room, apartment or office for a long break, saves money energy over winter. And reducing pollution can start immediately with energy conservation.
Before you start packing, take a minute to power down! You'll see your apartment energy bill drop, or maybe just UMBC's energy bill (hello tuition and tax payer dollars going down the drain). Oh and you'll help make sure air stays breathable, help UMBC's efforts to combat climate change, and protect communities from the health hazards of extraction and combustion of oil and gas.
- Computers, printers, scanners, TVs, gaming systems, space heaters, lamps, toasters, and coffeemakers are great places to start.
- Appliances such as these consume a phantom energy load, meaning they pull energy even when not turned on or in direct use.
- Annually 75% of electricity consumed by electronics when they are not in use. When you see a standby light or feel a warm charging cable that's a sign it's still sucking energy even if you aren't using it. Use a power strip to shut down the energy usage or just unplug. Source: U.S. Dept. of Energy.
Unplug and clean refrigerators and freezers
- The electricity used by larger appliances is major, and so is saving that energy for a month. If you can completely unplug, be sure no food is left inside.
- If it’s not possible to unplug, cleaning refrigerators and freezers is still beneficial. Dust and dirt that build up on coils located under and behind the unit cause it to work harder for longer cycles. Energy consumption can be reduced 6% by removing dust from the outside of the appliance 2-3 times a year. In addition, frost build up increases the amount of energy needed to run.
Turn off lights
- In a typical campus building 31% of energy use comes from lighting, making turning off lights an easy way to save both money and energy. Before walking out of the office or residence hall for break, do a quick walk through and flip the switches off!
Lower blinds and close curtains
- Heat transfer occurs from warm to cool areas, meaning a warm house in the winter is subject to lose heat as it flows to the cooler outside temperatures. Even when all windows appear to be completely closed, heat is still lost through a building’s walls, roof, and floor.
- About 35% of the heat produced by a building will be lost through gaps in and around windows and doors. By closing curtains and blinds before leaving, you can decrease the amount of heat wasted from your residence hall or office building.
Turn thermostats down
- In an apartment you have direct control of your unit’s heating and cooling system and can adjust accordingly for the time you will be gone by turning your heating system down.
- In an office setting, even if you only control your individual room or you have a limited range of control, remember every degree counts and even small efforts can cause big changes.
- Lowering the thermostat by 2 degrees cuts energy use by 6%. With about 45% of the energy in campus buildings being used for heating and cooling it's a major factor for conservation.
These small actions are habits you can choose every time you leave a building, but are especially important before leaving for an extended amount of time. Make this holiday break more sustainable and give a gift to the entire global community by powering down your residence hall, apartment, or office building before leaving campus!