Fighting Energy Use


Turn down the heat. Turn off your lights. Turn UP your enthusiasm for the Minnesota Campus Energy Challenge! MCEC started 5 years ago as a battle between dorms to reduce energy use during the entire month of February. Its popularity and success quickly expanded to be a competition across campuses, and this year Macalester is competing against nine other schools, including Carleton and the U of M to see who can reduce their energy use the most.

This year, we got a head start. Over January, Facilities, in conjunction with MacCARES students, finished replacing 17,000 light bulbs acrosscampus with more energy efficient bulbs. But that doesn’t mean that other schools aren’t implementing projects of their own! As helpful as these infrastructure changes are, we know there is more inefficiency out there, starting with our behavior. How often do you leave the room with your light on, or your computer on? Does your room really need to be that warm? With energy use, every tiny reduction counts, and we’re asking you to do your part.

You can reduce your individual energy use in a variety of ways: turn your light off when you leave the room. If you use a lamp, switch your light to a compact fluorescent bulb. Unplug all electronic devices (lamps, cell phone chargers, etc.) when not in use. These devices still draw energy (vampire energy) even when you’re not using them! Think it will be too much of a hassle to deal with all of those cords? Plug all of your electronic devices into a power strip and turn them all off with a flip of one switch. Take shorter showers with water that isn’t scalding hot; it takes energy to heat that up, too. Is your room too cold? Put on a sweater, or better yet, find a cuddle buddy.

But don’t just do this because we asked you to. Do it because, ultimately, you get the bill. On average, nearly $1000 of your tuition goes toward paying energy costs. If we keep the costs down, we keep our tuition down.Thatalsomeans we need to be aware of energy use in all buildings on campus, not just the dorms. So ask your professor if you can open the blinds instead of turning on the lights, or if he or she can turn offthe projector when class is over. Remind fellow students and teachers alike that the last one to leave the room needs to turn the light off. Recently, we discovered that after classes were over on Friday, over 10 classrooms in Humanities alone still had their lights on.

Lastly, reduce your energy because we want to keep the really cool, super awesome MCEC bike-powered blender!The bike blender is a new addition to the MCEC competition and is spending this year at Mac. Perhaps you’ve seen it around and enjoyed some of its delicious smoothies. Perhaps you’re planning on using the bike for your orgs next event (you can do this! Contact Matzke, [email protected] or Leah, [email protected]). But don’t get too used to having it.The winner of MCEC 2010 gets the bike for next year. If we lose MCEC, we lose the bike.

MacCARES has developed a list of energy-saving tips for y’all at our website, about them. Talk about them. Use them! Can we really affordnotto reduce our energy use?

MacCARES can be reached at [email protected].