Tricks on how to beat the cold while saving energy

LUKE GANSCHOW Guest Columnist

With the cold weather upon us, there are many ways to stay warm and to do it efficiently. Simple things such as putting on warmer clothes instead of turning up the thermostat can help. 

 During the winter season, when leaving for the night or the weekend, the thermostat can be turned down to help reduce heating loads when spaces are unoccupied. 

Another way to conserve energy is through window shades. Opening the shades during the day will let heat and sunlight in. To help insulate the windows at night, the shades should be closed.

Ensure that windows and outside doors are fully shut and properly sealed. Preventing drafts from leaky windows and doors will keep the room warmer and require less energy. If there are major drafts or leaks, these should be properly fixed.  

Heating registers shouldn’t have anything blocking them such as furniture, boxes or other items.  This will prevent the warm air from heating the room.

 As many of us enjoy warm foods and drinks when it’s cold outside, there are more efficient ways to do this, too. When reheating food or beverages, using the microwave instead of the stove will save energy. 

Using community coffee pots and microwaves rather than personal units helps because fewer appliances reduce the plug load and energy use. It is important to remember to always unplug them when they are not being used.

Efficiency can also be achieved in a classroom setting. When using laboratory fume hoods, the sash, which is the door or window to the fume hood, should be closed when the fume hood is not being used. Leaving the sash open continuously exhausts conditioned air to the outside. 

In the winter months, this warm air contains a lot of energy in it, and the cold outdoor makeup air needed to replace it has to be heated up. Shutting down lab equipment that is not needed for ongoing experiments will prevent energy from being wasted. Even when not running, plugged in lab equipment makes up a large portion of lab energy use.

 There are other measures to be taken that are not necessarily specific to the winter months, but are good practices to make a habit of, such as turning off the lights when leaving a room for 10 minutes or more. The same practice should be followed in regards to computers, printers and other office electronics. 

Most electronic pieces of equipment have some type of energy saving mode on them. Enabling these features will take advantage of the potential energy savings the equipment offers.

 Making a conscious effort and commitment to reduce the amount of energy used on campus is extremely helpful to South Dakota State University in pursuing its goal of being a sustainable campus.

These decisions and actions can have immense impacts, both financially and environmentally, on the university’s budget and carbon footprint.  By making a collective effort, we can all help build a better State.