Saving at College: 8 Energy-saving Tips for Students
Your study time, focus, and especially money are in short supply when you’re at college, so it’s essential to make the most of every minute and every dollar at disposal as economically as possible. In the United States today, most college grads leave school with at least $20,000 in debt, though the average is closer to twice that figure. Knowing that you’ll probably graduate with some debt, it’s important to save everywhere you can so you’re not paying it off for the next few decades—which brings to energy.
As a college or university student, even small energy savings can make a big difference in your budget. By reducing your energy consumption, you can save money on your bills and know you’re doing your part to protect the environment. Knowing students are typically busy with their studies, part-time jobs, and other obligations, the following tips have been selected as the easiest and quickest ways for students to save on energy.
Turn Off Your Lights
When you hear your mother’s voice remind you to turn off the lights—listen to it—especially if you live in an older house or building that requires incandescent bulbs. When you leave a room, just flip the switch. When you leave your apartment, check to make sure all the lights are turned off. If you know you’ll be studying late into the night, consider doing so in a nearby library or cafe so you can leave your lights (and your air conditioning) off at home.
Unplug Your Electronics
Unplug your electronics and make it a habit. As soon as your phone is done charging, unplug the charger. In areas with several electronics such as around your television or in your kitchen, use a power strip with multiple outlets and easily turn off several electronics at once with the flip of a switch . This makes it easier for you to maintain your the habit of turning off electronics when they are not in use.
Invest In a Programmable Thermostat
This might seem like an unnecessary expense since it is a bit of an upfront investment, but these typically pay for themselves in as little as a year. So over the course of four years, you’ll see the savings reflected in your energy bill with a smart thermostat. As a baseline, you can save up to 10% on your energy costs simply by programming your thermostat . During winter, reduce your heating overnight and pile on the blankets. During summer, only use the air conditioner when you’re at home. Also, remember to clean your air conditioner and heaters every once in a while to allow for optimized function.
Take Shorter Showers
Water is a precious, finite resource. If you enjoy long, luxurious showers, consider having a bath instead and soak for as long as you desire. If you are up for reducing your time spent in the shower, there are a few ways to go about it. You can turn the water off while you shave and shampoo, only using it when rinsing is required. Using 2-in-1 products such as shampoo that also conditions or body wash that doubles as shampoo can also save you time if they work for your skin and hair.
Some experts share the opinion that most of us shower far too often, too. You may want to cut back on bathing if you don’t need to, especially if you’re the type that showers more than once a day. Switch up routine and try bathing only after you work out or get sweaty. If you pick up a nice-smelling dry shampoo, you can probably skip a shower all together every now and then. This is also an excellent way to protect your skin and hair, as over-washing either can dry your skin out and leave your hair dry and damaged.
When it comes to washing dishes and laundry, only do full loads. If you don’t have enough for a full load, share with your roommate or friend. Use cold water to save about $63 a year and instead of using the dryer, consider air drying indoors or out . Plus, when shopping for appliances, look for the Energy Star symbol to select products that are efficiently designed to conserve energy .
Use the Elements to Your Advantage
Feeling chilly? Open your curtains to allow warming sunlight to spill in. Too warm? Close the blinds tightly to prevent the sunlight from heating your home during the day and open windows in shady areas to enjoy a nice breeze. It’s also important to dress appropriately for the seasons. Layer on sweaters in the winter and wear light clothing in the summer.
Meal Prep and Cook in Bulk
Save time, energy, and money by prepping your meals in advance. By cooking a large portion of food and eating them over time, you will reduce the amount of time spent using appliances. Meal prep is also a great way to reduce food waste, which also affects your bottom line. Meal prepping is especially efficient if you have roommates with whom you can share the cooking and clean-up duties. On cold winter days, select recipes that require the stove or oven as it will warm your kitchen while it cooks your food. On hot summer days, opt for recipes that don’t require the oven to stove.
Get a Slow Cooker
Speaking anecdotally, this is one of the best investments you can make at college. You can slash your food expenses to a fraction of what they are now with a slow cooker, all while still eating well. Chili, curry, soups, lasagna, oatmeal, cobbler, even brownies—there are few things you can’t make with a slow cooker. Best of all, affordable kitchen appliances like slow or pressure cookers also far less energy than your standard oven or stove top.
There are many tips and tricks to reduce your energy consumption and save money as a student. Try these out and make them a habit for lifelong savings. Your wallet and the environment will thank you.
1 “Student Lead Debt in 2017: 1.3 Trillion Crisis.” Forbes. 21 Feb 2017. https://www.forbes.com/sites/zackfriedman/2017/02/21/student-loan-debt-statistics-2017/#3c332bbe5dab
2 “Top 10 Home Energy Efficiency Tips.” Alliance to Save Energy, 4 Sept. 2013, www.ase.org/resources/top-10-home-energy-efficiency-tips.
3 Lester, Paul. “10 Energy Saving Tips for Spring.” Department of Energy, 20 Mar. 2015, www.energy.gov/articles/10-energy-saving-tips-spring.