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10 Easy Ways You Can Conserve Energy
October 27, 2009, Volume 56, No. 09

Penn consumes more than 407,000,000 kWh/yr of electricity. That’s enough to power over 40,000 homes.

1. Turn off everything you turn on

• A computer in sleep mode still uses a significant amount of energy. Both the computer and the monitor are drawing power to keep themselves in a suspended mode, ready to wake up the second you want to use them again. In fact, they could be sucking up as much as a combined 12 watts while you're in bed dreaming of a lower energy bill.

• Assuming a 15 watt draw for sleep mode and 15 hrs a day of sleep for the average computer on campus; by powering down you save 225kw hours per day. That adds up to a savings of $5.75 per year per computer. Multiply that times 20,000 Penn employees for annual savings of $115,000. 

• Turning off photocopiers, printers, computers and computer monitors, and other office equipment at night and on weekends will save Penn over $350,000 a year in electricity costs.

• If the Penn faculty/staff turned off their laptops, Penn would save about 150kW. That’s enough to power about 160 houses.

2. Unplug—avoid vampire loads

• Did you know over 80% of the energy used by a cell phone charger is when it is not charging? Most appliances draw power (vampire loads) when not in use but plugged in–what a waste! The vampires power convenience features, such as touch pads, remote controls, memory presets, instant-on function, and digital clocks as well as background functions of set top boxes that download program information.

• The industry uses the term "stand-by" for this mode, although the appliance labels the mode as “off.”

3. CYOC—Carry Your Own Cup

• North America consumes 50 million trees every year to make paper cups.

• There are over 40,000 students, faculty and staff on Penn’s campus. If each person uses one paper coffee cup each day (during the academic year), Penn would produce 9.6 million cups for waste—and this only accounts for one cup!

• If everyone on campus switches to reusable cups for just one day, it would save as much energy as using 1,000+ gallons of gasoline.

4. Walk, bike, or use SEPTA

• Transportation accounts for more than 30 percent of US carbon dioxide emissions. According to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), public transportation in the United States saves approximately 1.4 billion gallons of gasoline and about 1.5 million tons of carbon dioxide annually. 

• Philadelphia is packed with alternative transportation options that will get you to your destination cheaper (and often quicker) than by car. Walking, biking, and taking public transportation (SEPTA trains, buses and trolleys) are all great options for getting around the city and to the surrounding area! 

• Penn even provides numerous free transportation services that can get you around University City and into Center City.

5. Buy Energy Star 

• Energy Star is a joint venture by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy.

• Devices carrying the Energy Star logo, such as computer products and peripherals, kitchen appliances, buildings and other products, save 20%-30% on average.

• You are saving energy effortlessly when you are using energy efficient appliances, compact fluorescent bulbs, and other Energy Star products. The products are doing the energy saving for you, and you don't have to do anything other than buy and install them.

• The EPA estimates that it saved about $14 billion in energy costs in 2006 alone through the Energy Star program.

6. Heat & cool only your room, not the outside

• Energy is often wasted as occupants try to maintain a certain desired indoor comfort level with air and heating systems while there are unsealed doors and windows in the building.

• Unsealed doors and windows allow heat to escape in the winter and hot air to infiltrate in the summer.

7. Print double-sided

• The average ream of paper (500-sheets) uses 6% of a tree. In one year, the average person uses 2 pine trees worth of paper products.

• Penn has approximately 20,000 staff and faculty; assume that 5,000 are average US office workers. By printing double-sided to reduce overall copy paper use by only 10%, the estimated annual dollars savings would be $260,000. 

• Additional annual environmental impacts include eliminating 28 tons of solid waste; reducing water consumption by 500,000 gallons and 87 tons of wood consumption.

8. Report all leaks

• A “running” toilet can waste two gallons of water per minute. A silent leak in a toilet can waste up to 7,000 gallons of water per month.

• A faucet leaking a slow steady drip—100 drops per minute—wastes 350 gallons per month. A faucet leaking a small stream wastes 2,000 to 2,700 gallons of water per month.

• Fixing easily corrected household water leaks can save homeowners more than 10% on their water bills.

• The amount of water leaked from US homes could exceed more than 1 trillion gallons per year. That’s equivalent to the annual water use of Los Angeles, Chicago, and Miami combined.

9. Use natural lighting when possible to work and study

• The most efficient use of solar power is lighting. Sunlight is already light, no energy is lost in conversion to or from electricity.

• Maximizing natural light in your home is ultimately vital since you are making use of natural, free and greener ways to your greatest advantage.

10. Take the stairs instead of the elevator

• If you were to walk up and down 3 flights of stairs instead of an elevator, that would save 15 watts a day. That would be enough to power a 37" Plasma TV for 3 hours.

• If everyone at Penn walked up and down one flight of stairs instead of using the elevator, we could save 94,500 kWH of electricity and reduce CO2 emissions by 2550 tons. That’s the equivalent of taking 330 cars off the road. 

• Elevators run on electricity; taking an elevator might require the mining of uranium or fossil fuel, the operation of a nuclear or fossil fuel plant, transmission to your elevator, and the emission of greenhouse gases.

• Plus, new evidence shows reduced daily physical activity is a direct cause of many risk factors for chronic illnesses like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

—Penn Green Campus Partnership

Related: Energy Week Events

Almanac - October 27, 2009, Volume 56, No. 09