College Students Choose Interesting Approach to Global Warming

From time to time, an interesting idea or story may come along that gives us, as parents, insight into our students.  An interesting item in the Boston Globe recently reported on some college students’ approach to saving our environment.

The University of Rhode Island recently hired an energy services company to conduct an experiment regarding students’ behavior around some wasteful energy habits.  The school chose three habits common on campus: leaving computers on when they weren’t being used, keeping heat or air conditioners on when no one was in the room, and taking excessively long showers.

The university then set out to conduct a semester long program to see if they could change student behavior in these areas. They asked students to pledge to reduce energy consumption and then they posted reminders in dorms. They concluded that, in the area of environmental conservation, college students may be teachable!

Regarding computer use: prior to the campaign, only 18 percent of students said that they turned off their computers.  Most said their computers were on an average of 16 hours per day.  After the campaign, the percent of students who turned off computers rose to 35 percent.  As many as 75 percent of students said they “hibernate” their computer to a reduced power setting.

Regarding room heat and air conditioning, the campaign showed an increase from 45 percent to 65 percent of students who adjusted heat when they left.

The interesting finding came in the area of long showers.  As anyone who has had teenagers or college age students at home knows, this is an crucial area.  Initially, results of the survey showed that students’ showers lasted an average of 13 minutes each.  At the end of the project shower length hadn’t changed, but students had increased their savings.  How did they do it?  They showered less often!  Students reduced the number of showers from an average of 8 per week, to 6.5 per week.

College students’ approach to the world, and to its issues, might not always be what we would imagine, but they have their own creative ways of solving problems.  Lesson learned?  Appreciate your college student’s creative approach to life!

You can read the full Boston Globe article here.

2 thoughts on “College Students Choose Interesting Approach to Global Warming”

  1. You’re absolutely right! It is in the 90 degree heat of summer when the air conditioning is in full force that I need to wear a sweater AND run the space heater in my office!

  2. Depending on the size of the student body, the students aren’t going to be the main source of energy waste. I can remember unnecessarily warm dorms, doors left open to buildings, and lights being left on in academic buildings nearly 24/7.


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