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Switch Your Thinking!


         As the colder months approach, the Office of Sustainability encourages you to Switch Your Thinking with us! It is no surprise that on a campus this size, our energy consumption is one of the largest ways we have an impact on the environment. In November, on average, UTK uses 16,482,221.3 kWh of electricity and 1,335,115.5 therms of gas. This one month of energy consumption is equivalent to 18,745 metric tons of CO2 emissions. Another way to think about that is… it’s the same amount of emissions that you would get if you drove an average passenger vehicle for 47,109,284 miles (you could drive to the moon and back almost 100 times!). 


Switch Your Thinking



Unfortunately, not all of this consumption is actually utilized and instead there is a large amount of waste. As we kick off our Switch Your Thinking campaign, we wanted to offer up 5 easy ways that you can help conserve energy and minimize waste:

  • Dress for the weather 

This winter, before relying on energy to heat the spaces you will occupy, consider dressing warmer and reducing the amount of energy needed to keep you warm and healthy! 

  • Turn it off 

Before leaving a room, take an extra minute to evaluate if there are lights or heat running to a room that you won’t be utilizing. Turn these off until that room will be used again. 

  • Unplug it

Speaking of things you are not utilizing, did you know that even when an appliance is turned off it is still using energy if it is plugged in? This is called phantom energy and according to the Department of Energy, it can account for up to 10% of electricity use for a home! Consider unplugging appliances (hair tools, lamps, phone/laptop chargers) and only plugging them in when you are ready to utilize them. 

  • Use cold water

Unless you are needing hot water, utilize cold water to meet your needs. It takes energy to heat up water, and even if you have the faucet set to a “warm” setting there is a considerable amount of energy being used (even if it feels cool to your skin). You can also use cold water to wash your laundry (which can also extend the life of your clothes!). 

  • Screensavers?

Screensavers don’t actually conserve energy in the way most folks think they do! If you are hoping to conserve energy with your screens, the best option is to actually turn them off or plug them into a power strip that you can turn off with ease!


We hope that these tips will help you Switch Your Thinking about energy conservation and cannot wait to share more with you about the energy use here at UTK. Follow along over the next few months as we take a deeper look into ways to conserve energy, usage patterns at UTK, and consider our individual impacts on climate change through consumption!