PPL Electric Utilities: Six ways to save energy and money

Alana Roberts, Guest Writer

Editor’s Note: Alana Roberts is regional affairs director with PPL Electric Utilities, a major power supplier for central and eastern Pennsylvania.

Welcome back to school! This is always a time of year when college students and campuses are full of excitement and energy.

Speaking of energy, you’ll probably use plenty of it in the year to come, in between computers, table lamps, cell phones, TVs, hair dryers, and other daily must-haves.

We’ve compiled six energy-saving tips aimed specifically at college students. Whether you’re living off-campus or in a dorm, there’s something here that can help you save.

Those of you who are on the hook for a monthly energy bill can put the money saved to good use. And even if you’re not directly paying an electric bill, it’s still good for the planet to reduce the amount of energy you use. So check out these tips and see how they can help you:

1.   Don’t waste your cool.

Electric fans cool people, not rooms. So if you’re leaving a room for a while, turn off your fan. There’s no benefit to running a fan unless someone’s there to sit nearby.

2.    Keep vents clear.

Do you have one of those rooms with clothes, books and papers everywhere? It’s OK, we won’t judge. But you’ll want to make sure your stuff isn’t blocking the heating and cooling vents, because then the system has to work harder and use more energy to heat or cool your room.

3. Use smart power strips.

Some appliances continue to draw power when plugged in, even if they’re not being actively used. Examples include some printers, DVD players and computers. This stealthy demand is called “phantom power” or “vampire power,” and it can account for up to 10 percent of power use in some homes.

Smart power strips will automatically shut down power to devices that go into standby mode, then restore electricity when the devices are switched on. Smart power strips save energy, and are much more convenient than unplugging the appliances by hand.

4.  Go slow and save.

Slow cookers are probably a no-no in dorm rooms. But if you have an off-campus house or apartment, they’re worth looking into, since they use less energy than the stove and oven.

Slow cookers are convenient: You can fill them with ingredients in the morning, go out and about during the day, and come home to a cooked meal at night. Plus, the larger ones can hold enough food to let you entertain a couple of friends. And they’re relatively cheap, running anywhere between $25 and $50 online.

(No slow cooker? Make friends with your microwave, which also uses less energy than the stove and oven.)

5. Consider LED bulbs.

It’s true that LED light bulbs are more expensive than traditional incandescent bulbs, and on a tight college budget, they might not be an option.

If you’re in a position to use LEDs, though, you’ll benefit in energy and money savings. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, residential LEDs use at least 75 percent less energy than incandescents and can last up to 25 times longer. So it’s worth looking into LEDs, even if you can’t replace every bulb. (Also, PPL offers instant discounts on LEDs at some retailers. You can find the nearest retailer at www.pplelectric.com/retailers.)

6.    Don’t leave stuff on.

It’s the oldest, simplest energy-saving tip in the book – but it’s still something most of us don’t follow as closely as we could.

Turn off lights, computers or appliances if they’re not really serving a purpose by being on.  Also, turn things off when you leave your apartment, house or dorm room, just in case life takes you in a different direction and you don’t return as quickly as you expected.

We wish you good luck in class, and we hope it’s a great, memorable, and energy-smart year.