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Energy

What is Energy?

At its most basic, energy is the ability to do work. We consume energy constantly in our daily lives in everything from heating and cooling our buildings, fueling our cars, and even going for run. While food provides our body with energy, we look to outside sources, such as oil, natural gas, and sometimes renewable energies in order to power buildings, cars, and other electronics. To put electricity in perspective, a human would have to exercise strenuously for about 13 hours to power one light bulb for 10 hours. 

Read more about different kinds of energy and energy usage at University of Richmond.

Why Does Energy Matter?

Because energy is an essential part of our lives, it is necessary to understand where it comes from and the effects our energy use can have on the world around us. Global energy consumption has grown over 350% since 1950, and that growth isn't expected to stop anytime soon. This consumption has started to have enormous negative impacts on both the environment and economy. For most of us, our energy seems to come from a wall outlet or a gas pump, but in reality its generation and use is much more complicated. Therefore, an increase in energy awareness is critical for us to make progress towards energy conservation.

Burning fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas, and petroleum have huge negative costs not included in the price we pay for the energy. These include human health problems caused by air pollution; degradation of land from deforestation and coal mining; more extreme weather due to climate change; mass extinction; water pollution; and national security costs, such as protecting foreign sources of oil. More information on the effects of climate change can be found here.

Take a Solar Tour

The Office for Sustainability is now offering educational tours of the Weinstein Center's solar array. During the 20 minute tour, participants get an overview of how solar works, what is unique about our solar array, and why this array is important for the University's carbon neutrality goals. 

To schedule a tour please email Alice Allan, the Office for Sustainability's Energy Intern, at least two weeks before you would like to take a tour. The entire tour is outdoors, so please dress for the weather.

Save Energy and Be a Green Spider

The University is dedicated to energy efficiency and conserving, but these measures need the support of the campus community to be effective. Below are some ways that you can easily save energy and be a Green Spider.

Use smart lighting habits

-Always turn off all lights when a room is unoccupied

-Use natural light as much as possible to avoid turning on lights

-Use compact fluorescent (CFL) or light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs

Power down appliances and electronics

-Use automatic sleep and power-saving modes settings on computers, laptops, printers, and other devices

-Turn off computers, printers, and projectors before leaving at the end of the day. 

-Use power strips. Even when a device is turned off, it may still be drawing energy from an outlet. This is what is known as a “phantom load.” To reduce phantom loads, plug devices into a power strip and turn off the strip when devices are not in use.

-Unplug countertop appliances (coffee makers, blenders, etc.) when not in use

-When leaving campus for breaks, unplug TVs, computers, and powerstrips. Refrigerators should be unplugged with the door open and a towel underneath them to prevent molding.

-Send reminder emails to friends and colleagues to remind them to turn off and unplug devices and appliances before breaks. 

Change the way you do laundry

-Only do laundry when you have a full load

-Hang clothes or use drying racks instead of the dryer

-Use cold water settings to wash laundry

Change your thermostat settings

-For Heating:
When you are you in your room: 68 degrees, when out for the day 62 degrees, when away for the weekend 60 degrees.

-For Cooling:
When you are in your room: 75 degrees, when out for the day: 80 degrees, when you are away for the weekend: 85 degrees

- Keep windows shut while heat is on

-Keep blinds closed at night in the winter. Windows are one of the biggest ways in which heat can escape from a building. Keeping blinds shut will conserve energy used for heating.

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