For one week, all HLS Dorms competed to REDUCE THEIR JUICE, and Shaw led by Green Living Rep Katy Yang emerged victorious, reducing electricity consumption 6.4% and saving 144 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity and winning a dorm dinner from Spice restaurant. Taking action to reduce electricity use in dorms is an important part of Harvard Law School’s commitment to reducing our carbon footprint, because dorms are a large consumer of energy. In the course of an academic year (from September to May), HLS dorm residents used over 1,000,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity, which produced about 380 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (MTCDE).  This is about 2000 kWh and .75 MTCDE a person!

During the awareness-building and active reduction competition, dorms competed against each other to reduce electricity consumption off of a baseline taken the previous week. HLS dorms have competed in an annual electricity competition since 2008, but this year was the first year that all dorms reduced their net energy consumption. The HLS apartments located at 1637 Mass. Ave, 3 Mellen St, 5 Mellen St were also included in the competition for the first time. Throughout the competition, Green Living representatives in each dorm helped their residents learn about and implement energy conservation opportunities, including study breaks lit by hand-crank powered LED lanterns! 

The average electricity consumption reduction achieved across all dorms was 3.1%, or a total of 738 kWh saved, which is equivalent to a .51 metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalents (MTCDE). If these savings were maintained for 1 year, the Harvard Law dormitories would save 38376 kWh, which is equivalent to 26.5 MTCDE – like taking 5.2 passenger vehicles off the road for a year, and a $5,000 savings in utility costs.

In the dorms or in your home apartment, there are many steps you can take to conserve energy. Try these tips and watch the savings add up!

  • Turn off your lights. Open your blinds and use natural light during the day.  If you still haven’t swapped your regular incandescent bulb for an energy-efficient CFL (lasts 6x longer, uses 75% less energy) let me know and we can arrange a swap.  Use “task lighting,” like a desk lamp, instead of lighting up your whole room.
  • Shut down your computers at night and enable automatic power management. This is a one-time settings adjustment, and once you do it, you don't have to think about it anymore.  See the Office for Sustainability website for how to set Windows and Macs to save energy.
  • Reduce phantom power draw: Unplug chargers, and use power strips!!!!! (It’s best to plug everything into a power strip except your alarm clock, so that it can be switched off without turning off the clock.) Don’t leave your chargers for laptops/cell phones plugged in…they continue to use electricity even when they’re “off”!
  • Use drying racks instead of dryers. This is gentler on your clothes and helps stop them from falling apart or pilling.
  • Try and shave just one minute off your use of appliances, like a hair dryer. 
  • Clean out the fridge! They operate more efficiently when the air is allowed to circulate. Also, it will make your neighbors happy to have clean and spacious fridges. Consider raising the temperature setpoint in fridges/freezers if it’s not necessary to keep items at the coldest temperature.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Save energy AND get some exercise!