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Tips for Living Sustainably

Everyone can do their part to help lower emissions and live a sustainable lifestyle. Here are some ways to get involved.
Sustainability director John Pumilio presenting at the Greentivities Fair in Ho Science Center at Colgate

Green Campus Programs

University life creates unique opportunities for everyone — from students in dorms, to faculty and staff in their offices — for living a sustainable lifestyle. We have excellent programs in place to help everyone be great environmental stewards.

Tips for Everyone

Here are a few things that we can all do to reduce our individual environmental impact. We promise, they're not difficult!
Turn out the lights when not in use.
A large percentage of the charges on electric bills are from unnecessarily lighting rooms. Get in the habit of flipping the light switch off every time you leave a room for more than 15 minutes. Another good option is to install motion sensors so that lights automatically turn on when someone enters a room and off when they leave. LEARN MORE
Use paper with at least 30% recycled content.
A study by students in ENST 390 indicated that a 30% minimum recycled content system for university paper purchases would not only reduce our carbon footprint by nearly 3 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, but could potentially reduce expenses by upwards of $3,000! READ MORE
Replace old incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient compact florescent (CFL) or LED light bulbs.
CFLs use 75% less energy than incandescent light bubs and last up to 10 times longer. For each incandescent light bulb you replace with a CFL, you could eliminate 100 pounds of carbon dioxide each year. According to Green America, if each home in America replaced one bulb with an Energy Star-rated CFL, it would save enough energy to light three million homes for a year and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions from 800,000 cars. LEARN MORE
Unplug laptop/phone chargers after your device is fully charged.
Chargers can draw as much as 5 to 20 times more energy than is actually stored in the battery if you continue to leave them plugged in!
Turn down heating and cooling.
You can save around 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills by simply turning your thermostat back 10°–15° for eight hours. You can do this automatically without sacrificing comfort by installing an automatic setback or programmable thermostat. LEARN MORE
Plug all electronics into a power strip or a Smart Strip.
Electronic devices continue to consume energy even when they are turned off. This is known as "phantom load." According to Energy Star, phantom load is responsible for 40% of your electrical usage! In fact, a quarter of the energy used by your TV each year is consumed when the TV is off! This unnecessary waste of energy costs you money and harms our environment. Smart Strips can put an end to phantom load. Simply plug all your electronic devices into the appropriate outlets on the Smart Strip and the problem is solved! Power strips work equally as well but require a little more work on your end — you have to flip the switch off every time you are finished using your device. TVs, DVD players, computers, printers, and cell phone chargers are just some of the devices that leak power even when they aren’t on. LEARN MORE
Turn off your computer monitor when it is not in use.
Leaving your monitor in standby mode rather than switching it off wastes energy and money.
Wash laundry in cold or warm water, never hot.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, about 90 percent of the energy used for washing clothes is for heating the water. Most clothes don’t need a hot or even a warm water rinse. With new detergents designed for cold water washing, you don’t even need to turn on the hot. LEARN MORE
Let your dishes air-dry.
Forget about the energy intensive “drying cycle” on your dishwasher; let your dishes air-dry instead!
Do a home energy audit.
A home energy audit will help you begin the process of becoming energy efficient. The U.S. Department of Energy provides helpful instructions for a Do-It-Yourself Audit, and they also provide resources if you decide to have a professional energy audit on your home. LEARN MORE
When purchasing new appliances or electronics, choose ENERGY STAR products.
Energy Star labels appear on appliances and home electronics that meet strict energy efficiency criteria established by the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. LEARN MORE
Make your fridge more efficient.
Keep your refrigerator's coils clean to boost its overall power, and store jugs of water in any empty space inside because water retains coldness better than air. According to Green America, this could result in a 4 percent energy savings per year. LEARN MORE
Don't waste energy on TV.
With the switch to digital TV (June 2009), many people are buying new, digital-ready TVs. If you must shop for a new television, look for an LCD (liquid crystal display) screen, which uses six times less energy than a plasma screen.