5 tips for students to save on energy-usage (& -bill)

Being a student is the most wonderful time of your life. You meet a lot of new people, have lots of fun at the campus and will undergo new experiences. However, you will find yourself in a harsh place to finance all those activities. Energy costs are one of the highest fixed costs for students. But the intense use of energy will have a bigger impact if we won’t be careful. Our world is rapidly changing, coral reefs are disappearing, lands covered by snow are becoming grass fields. The increasing energy consumption is one of the biggest reason for this disruptive shift.

In this blog activities will be discussed that will suit you and make you a saver of energy and money!

Tip 1: Create Awareness

One of the first steps in becoming more sustainable is getting aware. Make yourself aware of what your energy consumption is. Getting insights in how you could change your sustainable behaviour.

Do you know how much energy the production of your food costs? Industrial agriculture does impact the health and well-being of people and animals negatively (R. Lawrence, 2002). Knowledge about your consumption is (mostly) seen as the first step to behaviour change. If you know what is bad for you and the environment, you know what to eat less or stop eating it. Knowledge is your first step in becoming more sustainable. You can create awareness by getting more insights in your own energy consumption.

Tip 2: Getting insights in your energy usage

Another means of encouraging sustainable behaviour is to use feedback. At the time of writing, a lot of energy suppliers keep track of your energy data. You can personally check your performance regarding gas and electricity usage on most energy-supplier-websites. Research shown that feedback is more important when its presented over an extended period of time.

Another option is to buy an ‘Power Consumption Meter’ (see figure 1), this device can track the energy consumption from one socket. ‘’This system is extremely useful in monitoring energy consumption inside buildings to better understand the current energy consumption of a specific electrical device as well as to study the behaviour of energy consumption of the user.’’ It’s possible to track all your energy use in house what will result in behaviour change regarding energy usage. If you know what you do wrong, you can change your behaviour in something more desirable for a sustainable future.

Figure 1: Power Consumption Meter

Tip 3: Discuss & compare your energy usage with others

The previous tip was about the Power Consumption Meter. Now that you know what your energy usage is, discuss this with others to make it more sensible to you. When you notice that your kettle is using three times more electricity than your sister’s kettle, you know that yours might not be so environmentally friendly. Eventually, you will get new sustainable energy solutions from your familiars.

Specific solutions might have been found by one of your friends, which are easily applicable to you. Discuss these solutions on an informal and educative manner.

Tip 4: Meat consumption & plastic usage

Research shown that you are able to drive for 3 hours straight while leaving the lights on at home, results in less CO2 emissions then producing a kilogram of beef. A problem regarding meat consumption is that people are probably not conscious about their CO2 emissions regarding beef. ‘’I’ve been eating meat for my entire life’’, it’s so embedded in our behaviour, which makes it hard to change.

Plastic pollution might be one of today’s biggest concerns. For the environment, and for us as humans. ‘Millions of animals are killed by plastics every year’ (L. Parker, 2019). This sounds bad, but what if I tell you that a study (regarding microplastics in bottled water) pointed out that only 17!!! bottles were free of plastic, from the 259 tested. Besides, the production of plastic is one of the most energy intense material. An easy adaptation is to bring your own bag to the grocery store, this will save money and plastic usage.

Tip 5: Contact your house-owner.

Consumer behaviour change is needed in order to use less energy (and become more sustainable). Studies found out nudging had the intended effect of lowering energy consumption. However, it’s very important to calibrate nudges correctively to different contexts. Most student-housing is owned by cooperatives or private investors. Mostly, students can’t afford to invest in preservation of their houses, nor they are the owners of these buildings they live in. In order to make your house environmentally friendly, you need to get in contact with your house-owner.

House-owners should nudge students in the right way, as well as providing them an opportunity to become more sustainable. Receiving information about average energy consumption of similar sized homes and further information on how to change their energy-usage, can result in an energy reduction of 9%. Contact your house-owner in order to make their assets more sustainable.

Conclusion

Possibilities everywhere! Start by getting yourself aware and get knowledge. Discuss it with your family and friends. Change the way you behave in a way you want to! Not every action suits your daily life, but for sure there is an opportunity to let you become more sustainable. Recycle, reuse, resell used items, donate items, save water, use the car less, stop using disposables, are easy and commonly used for student. Self-regulation might be needed in order to change your own ‘energy intense behaviour’.

Act responsible, think sustainable!

A blog by Ronald Kevelam

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