And the winner is…

Results for Eco Reps’ Power Down Competition are in

By Michelle Scott
Scarlet Staff

This winter break, while most of us were skiing the Alps, sipping hot cocoa, and reading Heidegger by the banks of the Rhine, Eco Reps were keeping tabs on our dorm rooms. Before vacation they warned us, challenging us with their Power Down competition, to unplug all of our unnecessary electronics before we set sail for home.

The dorm to cut down its electrical usage the most during that month long academic reprieve (as compared to its previous years’ usage) would win a date with a chocolate fountain. Well congratulations, Hughes Hall!

The Hughes winners cut down their average in-school electrical energy emissions by an outstanding 36.23% from last year to this year. Sanford came close, with a 35.14% reduction, and third was Wright, with 23.95%. Sorry to say, Maywood, you came in last with a year-to-year reduction of only 3.04%.

But what does it all mean? I spoke with Corinne Jachelski, the Eco Rep in charge of planning the event and coming up with all these crazy digits and percentage signs. Let’s take a look at, say, Wright Hall. Last year during winter break it used an average of 203.3 kWh a day. During this break it only used 154.6 kWh everyday. 

Thus it reduced its Power Down numbers a whopping total of 23.95%, placing Wright in fourth.

It might be interesting to note that on an average day (say one Mid-November), Wright Hall uses 479 kilowatt-hours of electricity. If you’re anything like me, this kilowatt-hour concept is entirely too abstract to grasp, even in its non-abbreviated form. Luckily, Corinne gave me the following handy comparisons. One kilowatt-hour will power a 40-watt light bulb for an entire day.

Alternatively, one kilowatt-hour will power a personal computer for about two and a half hours. And if you can only understand abstractions in terms of hairstyling, one kilowatt hour will power your hairdryer for 30 to 60 minutes. Clark’s using these kWh like they’re going out of style.

On average the biggest electrical energy vortex is Blackstone, which uses 1,280 kWh a day!

It’s as though they’re leaving 1,280 40-watt light bulbs on all day. Per person, that is equal to 6.15 kWh a day.

Now, now, now, I don’t want to blame any dorm building in particular for our energy indulgence. There are hidden energy costs in the buildings themselves. In order to keep these buildings running, no matter who is living in them, there is a certain amount of electricity being used. This is a group effort! There are, however, some very individual things you might want to consider to significantly reduce these numbers. Ever been to the Clark Community Thrift Store? If one of your light bulbs suddenly dies, stop on by and get a free CFL bulb (compact florescent light) to replace it. These goofy looking bulbs save energy. Once you’ve got your efficient lights all screwed in, try making sure the lights are off when nobody is home.

When you’re the last one leaving the bathroom, be sure to flick the switch. It sounds elementary, but even I, the author of these sustainability-minded articles, need to double-check every once and a while. Also, check the Internet for helpful tips. It knows a lot more than I and can tell you interesting facts, such as the fact that a toaster oven uses half the energy of a real oven.

Over all, in the words of Corinne, “it was a commendable job for all.” The numbers reveal something positive: we’ve reduced our electrical usage from one year’s Power Down to the next. Last year, Hughes was using 348.6 kWh of energy during winter break, as opposed to this year’s winning number, 222.3 kWh. And all halls saw a reduction, not just the overachievers in Hughes. It’s just a matter of remembering simple things. Using better light bulbs; turning off lights; baking in a toaster oven rather than a conventional oven. Simple choices can make all the difference.

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