My apartment (with two bedrooms and two people) has an estimated electricity consumption (according to my utility provider) of 5000 kWh/year.
The building I work in has two stairwells each going from the basement to the 14th floor. These stairwells have lots of windows in them allowing plenty of natural light in (even though it is north facing). The lights are nearly always left on however (even though any individual can control the whole stairwell’s lighting from any floor).
Every floor has 100W of lighting installed (4 fluorescent 24W tubes). If these are running all the time, the daily (24h) energy consumption of both stairwells is 65kWh.
If the lights were turned off every night (when not being used) between say 9pm and 6am, and additionally turned off when it is light enough outside to see (between say 9am and 5pm in the mid Autumn – which is representative for the year) then there would be a saving of 70% of this energy consumption.
Over the course of a year, this saving is equivalent to 16700kWh. Around 3 medium size Norwegian apartments yearly energy consumption, and a bill that could be around 10000kr (or €1000, depends on the pricing arrangement for non-domestic buildings). A simple timer system with a manual override could thus provide this degree of saving.
Why isn’t it done?
Probably nobody has direct responsibility for energy saving initiatives. There are a lack of incentives for making cost savings for any individual who may be able to make such suggestions. And at the end of the day the saving is for a university, what would it matter to them?
But think about if all of these questions were turned on their head. Somebody cares. It’s somebody’s responsibility (or maybe a shared responsibility). And there are incentives to make these changes.
Simple things like this could lead to the kinds of energy savings that mean we don’t need to keep building new power stations. Or we can phase out the polluting ones even faster as the renewable energy percentage increases.
Energy saving opportunities are everywhere!
How about the open refrigerators in supermarkets? How about some clear doors for them?
Auto-sleep settings on computer screens.
Powerboards with foot switches on them.
Replacing leaky window and door seals at home.
Timers for heating based on anticipated occupancy.
Heating only in occupied rooms, closing doors between used and unused spaces.
Natural and LED lighting.
Shorter showers and flow restrictors on showerheads and taps.
Insulating hot things or cold things, including your home.
And my personal favourite: the free fridge that is called winter for your packed lunch.