Dorm Room Audit

Plugging everything into a power strip and turning off the strip when you leave your room can save significant amounts of energy.

Need some direction? Download a dorm room energy audit [pdf] !


  • Turn off the lights! Easy to do, and to forget.
  • Use daylight whenever possible. No need for lights during the daytime if there's a window nearby!
  • Use more efficient light bulbs. Fluorescent, compact fluorescent (CFLs), LED, and other efficient bulbs use up to 90% less energy than incandescent bulbs. CFLs are the best choice in most instances, use 75% less energy, and are available for FREE from the Sustainability Integration Office.

Electronics and Appliances

  • Eliminate phantom loads. Almost everything electronic, especially chargers, uses "standby" power as long as it's plugged in, even when turned OFF! Unplug items when not in use, or plug them into a power strip and turn the strip off. Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory estimate that standby power, also known as the "phantom load," is responsible for 5-10% of U.S. residential energy use. If it were eliminated, 30 coal-fired power plants could be shut down for one year!
  • Purchase Energy Star appliances. Energy Star certification is awarded by the EPA to products that use less energy, save money, and are better for the environment. When shopping, look for appliances that bear the Energy Star label. You can also view a list of Energy Star products here.
  • Use rechargeable batteries. Save money and reduce resource consumption and hazardous waste. For more information, see this site.

For more information about the energy use of common dorm room appliances, download this document.

Using Your Fridge

  • Is your fridge empty? Turn OFF and UNPLUG.
  • Leaving for break? Turn OFF and UNPLUG.
  • Sharing is caring! Share fridges with friends to reduce energy use.
  • Don't put your fridge against the wall - leave the coils in the back open to the air.
  • Clean the coils on the back of the fridge if they look dusty or dirty.
  • Don't open the door! Well, do it as little as possible. The number one variable in fridge energy use is how often you open the door.

Climate Control

  • Understand how the heating or heating/AC unit works in your room: All residence halls use convection heating or heating/AC units. These units heat or cool air by blowing it over pipes filled with hot or cold (50 degree) water. These units recycle air already in the room. In other words, if you want to get fresh air into your room, you'll have to shut off the system and open your door or window!
    • Mudd-Blaisdell, Gibson, Oldenborg: The chillers that cool water for the AC in these dorms are turned off when outside air temperatures fall below 55-65 degrees and the boilers that heat water are turned off when outside air temperatures reach 75-80 degrees. The hallways and common areas in all of these dorms are ventilated with warm or cool fresh air.
    • Harwood, Wig, Lyon, North Campus: The heating in these dorms is only turned on when it is cool outside. When the heat is on in these buildings, residence can turn the knob on their heating unit to open or close the airflow flap. As long as the building heating is on, the units will be warm. Students can ask Maintenance to permanently turn off the heat to their room. Call Maintenance (909-607-2236) if your heater doesn't feel warm in the winter. The hallways and common areas in these dorms (except the short hallways in Clark III and V) are ventilated with warm or cool fresh air.
    • Sontag and Pomona Halls: The heating/cooling only work in these dorms when the windows in the room are shut. EAch room has an individual thermostat that can be adjusted. The screen normally displays the actual temperature. In heating mode (when room temperature is <70 degrees), the setpoint is adjustable between 60 degrees and 68 degrees. When not in the heating mode, the setpoint is adjustable between 76 degrees and 85 degrees. 
  • Adjust your clothes, not the thermostat. Socks, hats, and sweaters make very energy-efficient heaters!
  • Use natural airflow to control the climate of your room or office. Use a fan instead of the AC when you can. Close your blinds when it's hot outside. don't leave the window open when the heat or air conditioning is on. Turn of the AC when you leave your room.
  • Call Maintenance (909-607-2236) if the heat or AC in an academic building is too high or too low.


  • Go chemical-free. The RA desks provide Activeion cleaning units for student checkout - these units turn tap water into sanitizing general purpose cleaner!
  • Reduce toxins. Check out the array of green cleaners at Trader Joe's, Sprouts, and Ecoterra.
  • Reduce waste. Use cloths and rags instead of paper towels.


  • Conserve trash bags. Dump out the trash, reuse the bag.
  • Fix it instead of buying a new one. Have faith in your or your neighbor's fixing abilities.
  • Buy used. Before buying something new, post an ad on Chirps, check out ReCoop, visit a local thrift store, or browse Craigslist to see if you can get a used item instead.
  • Get free recycled notepads from Duplicating Services (across from Seaver North, just beyond Millikan).