Energy Efficiency Tips

electrotech equipment

To improve energy efficiency in your residence hall room or apartment, look at taking the following actions:


  • Replace the most frequently used fixtures or bulbs in them with ones that have earned the ENERGY STAR label. Compact fluorescent light bulbs CFLs not only use less electricity and last longer, they also give off less heat than incandescent bulbs (which release 95% of their energy as heat). If you use a compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL), visit CUMC’s Environmental Health and Safety page ( to learn how to properly dispose of them.
  • Turn off lights when not in use.
  • Use natural light. If you get natural light from your windows, make sure your overhead lights are turned off whenever possible.
  • Lower your overall energy demand by concentrating bright light where you need it rather than evenly lighting the entire room; use “task lighting.”
  • Keep light fixtures clean—a cleaner bulb is a brighter bulb.


  • Unplug any battery chargers or power adapters, or use a power strip as a central “turn off” when you are not using equipment. Your cell phone charger, MP3 player charger, laptop power adapter and other appliances consume electricity when they are plugged in but turned off. Many of these popular devices are a power drain even when they are turned off, consuming as much as 40% of the energy they use when on. This is called “standby” or “vampire” power, and it is a waste of resources and money.
  • Look for the ENERGY STAR logo when purchasing a new refrigerator, computer, monitor or television. There are many types of ENERGY STAR certified equipment, including battery chargers, room air conditioners and air cleaners, DVD players, TV’s, computers, laptops, monitors, external power adaptors and various residential light fixtures.
  • Check out your dorm facility's kitchen setup before you start buying appliances; Think twice before adding an additional refrigerator to your room or off-campus apartment.
  • If you must bring a refrigerator, make it an energy-efficient refrigerator. Refrigerators run constantly and require lots of energy to stay cool. Look for the ENERGY STAR label when making your purchase.
  • You can save even more energy by adjusting your fridge to a moderate setting instead of cranking it to the coldest temperature.


  • Keep in mind when buying a computer and computer-related devices that laptops use 50%-80% less energy than desktops and LCD screens use 50%-70% less energy than their CRT counterparts. Also, look for the Energy Star label on any computer or electronic device that you are buying.
  • Use less energy to power your computer by putting your computer in sleep mode after 15 minutes and turning it off at night.
  • If you leave your computer for even short periods of time, shut off the monitor... even this simple step results in significant energy savings!
  • Set your computer to sleep or hibernate mode when it’s not in use, and go ahead and shut it down if you aren't going to use it for an extended period of time. And PS: screen savers don't "save" any energy at all!

For detailed instructions, including screen shots showing each step in the configuration process, consult the Energy Star site (

Heating and Cooling

  • A word from Facilities: to keep all of your heating and cooling units working efficiently, don't block the units with furniture or clothing.
  • During cold weather, take advantage of the sun’s warmth by keeping shades or drapes open during daylight hours. Close window shades and drapes in hot weather to keep out the heat of the summer sun.
  • Be cool. Keep A/C use to a minimum. The average air conditioning unit generates 3,400 pounds of CO2 per year. Instead of using this big drain on energy, opt for a fan, open a window or study outside
  • Turn off personal fans when you are not in the room. Fans only circulate air; they do not cool it. If you can’t feel the fan, it is not helping you stay cool.
  • During the winter we all feel like we’re at the mercy of the resident hall’s heating systems – it's always too hot, so we open our windows. But the cold air on one floor can make the building thermostat turn the temperature up even higher! In the winter, you can avoid this vicious cycle: don't leave your window wide open for hours at a time. If your room still feels way too hot, turn your heater to a LOW (not "off") setting and send a maintenance request to Facilities. And don't forget to close your windows when you go out of town or leave for vacation.

Laundry Rooms

  • Use cold water. Wash laundry in cold water to save on the energy needed to heat water. Unless you have stubborn stains or odors, cold water will get your clothes clean. Cold water also preserves the life of your clothes so they last longer.
  • Run a full load of laundry. Throwing a blouse or a pair of pants alone into the wash is a waste of water, energy, and detergent. Make sure you are running a full load of laundry each time you use the washing machine.


The five New York boroughs depend on the Croton, NY watershed and the Catskill/Delaware watershed systems for all of their water needs. Every time we let water go to waste, we are diminishing these reservoir levels and increasing New York's vulnerability to drought. Here's how to conserve this valuable resource:

  • Turn the water off. Don’t keep the water running while brushing your teeth or shaving. Instead, turn off the water until you need it again. For each minute you turn off the faucet, you conserve between three to five gallons of precious New York water.
  • Take shorter showers. Save both water and energy when you take shorter showers. Keep in mind that each minute uses 1.6 gallons of water, plus the energy needed to heat it up.
  • Report leaks. Immediately report any leaks such as dripping toilet, sink or shower to maintenance. A leak can waste incredible amounts of water in a short time. A faucet leaking 30 drops per minute wastes 54 gallons per month.
  • Try to use the lowest-wattage models of electric hair dryers, shavers, and other beautifying appliances – and be sure to unplug them when you're done. Remember that just 15 minutes of blow-drying releases 1.2 kilograms of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
  • Columbia's hardworking housekeeping staff keeps your toilet paper stocked on a fixed schedule – so you don’t need to hoard rolls of T.P. in your room; it only deprives it from your dorm mates and also creates surplus demand for the whole floor. Ease up on the trees and contact your housekeeping staff when you are running low.
Need Help? Contact Facilities Management

212-305-Help (4357), select 'Option 3'
Monday-Friday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
All other times, call Public Safety at
305-8100 for routine matters or
305-7979 for an on-campus emergency.

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Facilities Operations

650 West 168th Street
Black Building, Room B-02
New York, NY 10032
Tel: 212-305-4357 (Option 3)
Fax: (212) 305-1026

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Black Building
New York, NY 10032
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New York, NY 10032
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