On-campus energy conservation necessary to deal with soaring prices

Kelly Cothren

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have increased energy costs and made energy conservation essential to Kent State students.

“The reality is that we have to conserve energy every way we can,” said Thomas Dunn, associate director of energy. “It is the only way we can keep the high prices from hitting us as hard as they could.”

Kent State’s power plant is run on natural gas and is designed to maximize energy and minimize loss, Dunn said. The plant makes a constant effort to prepare for situations such as rising prices. One preparation is having gas in storage.

Even with the efficient plant and advance preparations, increasing natural gas prices may affect Kent State.

“Current gas prices went up 30 to 40 percent or higher, and if it doesn’t back off, the university will be exposed to these high prices,” said Dunn. “We try to average down these high costs, but that is about all we can really do.”

Students who live in the residence halls are also affected by increasing prices in natural gas because they help pay the energy costs of the campus.

“The increasing costs of natural gas affects the cost of running a school,” said Jim Zentmeyer, associate director of Residence Services.

“A lot of the money that is used to fund the school is collected from the students. As the cost of running the school increases, the price for students increases as well.”

Students who live on campus can conserve energy on an everyday basis to help keep energy costs lower.

One of the most important ways for students who live on campus to conserve energy is reporting waste. Any equipment that is running for no apparent reason is a waste. For example, a street light on during the day is not serving a purpose and should be reported and fixed, Dunn said.

A way for students to report these issues is by RapidTrack, an online service that allows residence hall students to report maintenance work.

“If it is not reported, we don’t know about it, and we can not fix it,” said Marijean Benedik, assistant director of Residence Services. “Any RA or RHD can help students do a RapidTrack.”

Another easy way to conserve energy is turning off unnecessary lights. Lighting accounts for 50 percent of the campus electricity, said Dunn.

“Sometimes a task light is all a student needs, not all the overhead lights,” Zentmeyer said. “Opening the curtain for natural light also saves energy.”

One thing students may not be willing to turn off is their computer. Many students who own computers leave them on all day.

“I get on the computer when I wake-up and when I go to bed, so I just leave it on all the time,” freshman psychology major Page Bolden said. “I also like to leave up my instant messenger, so I can still get messages while in class.”

Dunn suggests students use a power management option, included on most computers. This tool automatically switches the computer to a hibernation state after being idle for a certain number of hours.

With winter just around the corner, students can conserve energy by limiting their use of heat.

“In the winter months, it seems like students want to bop around in T-shirts and shorts. If students dressed warmer in the winter, it would be a major help,” Zentmeyer said. “Aunt Martha really wants to see you wear that sweater, and she probably spent a long time knitting it.”

The key to conserving energy is common sense and turning appliances off when unneeded.

“When you leave a room, turn every thing off; that is the easiest way to conserve energy,” Benedik said.

More energy saving tips can be found at U.S. Department of Energy Web site at http://www.eere.energy.gov/buildings/info/homes/.

Contact Building and Grounds reporter Kelly Cothren at [email protected].