energy \ˈe-nər-jē\ noun 1a. ability to be active. b. the physical or mental strength that allows you to do things. 2a. natural enthusiasm and effort. 3a. usable power that comes from heat, electricity, etc.
You can look up the definition of energy but that doesn’t mean you entirely understand what it is and what contributes to it. And I don’t mean energy from eating healthy or getting a good night of sleep. I am talking about definition 3a.
Do you know where the energy that powers your home comes from? Are you aware of how much energy that load of laundry really uses? If not, then now is the perfect time to learn!
Why? October is National Energy Awareness Month.
If you are one of those people who needs an excuse to get active in sustainability issues, use this time to challenge yourself to make a change going forward. It’s never too late to start saving energy!
More information of the designation of energy awareness month can be found here: https://www.nema.org/Policy/Energy/Efficiency/Pages/Energy-Awareness-Month.aspx
What is the point of Energy Awareness Month?
While there are many residential communities, college campuses, workspaces and others who are working hard to reduce their energy consumption, the world is still burning fossil fuels at astronomical rates to meet energy demands, which continue to increase steadily.
The U.S. has only 5% of the world’s population, yet it consumes 5x as much energy—nearly 25% of world energy usage.
People are aware of renewable energy. But when put to the task, it seems the everyday citizen views the battle with energy consumption as taking place outside of their reality. They are wrong—There are many ways for individuals to reduce their energy usage on a daily basis, and it isn’t that difficult to do.
Energy Awareness Month definitely promotes large-scale energy projects, but also serves to educate the everyday consumer and make energy awareness more accessible.
Quick energy use statistics
What effect do people have on energy usage? Check out these energy stats on common practices:
- Energy used by devices left on standby—computers, printers,…—account for 5-10% of the total electricity used in residential homes, and contributes to about 1% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)
- Only 5% of the power drawn by a phone charger is used to charge the phone. The other 95% is wasted when your phone is left plugged in.
- Turning off unneeded lights could remove 376 lb of CO2 emissions per year. (Energy Saving Trust)
- Lighting a typical office overnight wastes enough energy to heat water for 1,000 cups of tea. (The Carbon Trust)
- 90% of the total energy used by a typical washing machine is used just to heat the water. (Energy Saving Trust) Cold water wash is the best way to do your laundry!
Other fun facts can be found here: http://www.environment.admin.cam.ac.uk/resource-bank/facts-figures
Who can be involved in Energy Awareness Month?
One of the goals of Energy Awareness month is to make energy consumption issues more accessible for common consumers so everyone can participate!
Whether you want to be a lone warrior for the energy cause or you want to put together a team of energy savers in your school, workplace or home. Energy Awareness Month is a great incentive for you!
Many places establish a calendar of events and efforts specifically for this month, but you can build off these ideas at any time of the year—for school community service projects, office team-building events, even your New Year’s resolutions.
Emory University held an energy competition (read about it below).
Even the White House is getting involved! Specifically for this month, the Obama administration organized several clean energy events. You can learn more about White House efforts here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/national-energy-awareness-month
Emory University- Campus efforts for Energy Awareness Month
Every year, Emory holds a competition during Energy Awareness Month to see who can reduce their energy consumption the most. Residence halls, classrooms and labs all participate in the competition, and for extra motivation, the grand prize is $1000! The competition setting is a fun way to get students involved and interested in energy issues. As the Sustainability Chair for my residence hall, I had many people asking me for tips on how they can reduce their energy consumption! By raising awareness now, we can work towards even more energy reduction in future campus events!
Another program for Emory students during Energy Awareness Month is No Power Hour, when dorms set a time for everyone to unplug their electronics and leave their residence hall to play games and socialize on the quad, all while saving energy! This gives students a fun example of ways they can reduce energy and is a very visible program to spread awareness throughout campus.
How can you decrease your energy consumption?
Hopefully, you have heard something here and want to get involved! Still not sure what you can do? Check out these helpful tips below:
- Turn off your computer at night.
- Unplug device chargers when not in use.
- Adjust temperatures for air conditioning and heating when not at home.
- Wash laundry when you have a full load, using cold water.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Run your dishwasher with a full load or wash them by hand.
- Don’t leave water running unnecessarily.
- Turn off lights when you leave the room.
- Use natural light whenever possible.
Do you have a great idea of how to decrease energy consumption or spread energy awareness to those who might not know? Please share your ideas!
Remember, it’s never too late to save energy… Start now!