The Kill-a-Watt Energy Conservation Competition, an effort to reduce individual energy consumption, is one of many events taking place over Lehigh’s Energy Conservation Month.
Spanning from Oct. 22 to Nov. 19, the Kill-a-Watt Competition tracks energy usage in all on-campus residential buildings and rewards the residence hall or house that consumes the least amount of energy per-capita.
Corena Munroe, ‘24, has been involved with the Eco-Reps Leadership Program since the beginning of her freshman year.
Munroe emphasized the importance of Eco-Reps in the Lehigh community and how they strive to help students conserve energy by providing guidance on social media platforms and GroupMe.
“Our biggest goal is to educate our peers on environmental issues and give them examples on how to make tangible changes in their everyday lives,” Munroe said.
Although the Eco-Reps program’s first iteration was established in 2010, an article published in a January 1980 edition of the Brown and White details that year’s Kill-a-Watt competition. Its motivations bear similarity to today.
One of the principal reasons for the Kill-a-Watt competition is to push students to develop more sustainable habits that they will continue to follow long after the competition’s end, Eco-Reps Coordinator Ajah Quawiy, ‘23, said.
Quawiy stressed the difference these small habits can make when taken up by a larger collective.
“You have a bigger part in the entire system of how much energy (we consume) and how sustainable Lehigh is,” Quawiy said. “Just doing these little things can really save so much energy on campus, and make Lehigh itself overall a more sustainable campus that people can look up to.”
While Lehigh has pledged to pursue a sustainable future through commitments such as the Sustainability Strategic Plan 2030, students have criticized the university over the years for its multi-million dollar investments in fossil fuels.
Eco-Rep Jada Gonzalez, ‘24, acknowledged that large companies are the primary resource consumers, contributing most to the climate crisis, but said individuals can still have an impact.
“Finding ways to be more efficient about energy, even though it seems like a small sum of the bigger whole, it is better than nothing,” Gonzalez said. “And it will at least give us more time to figure out how to save the world, if not just to make it a little bit easier on the world.”
Eco-Reps recommended a number of ways to reduce energy consumption in a series of community-wide emails promoting the competition and Energy Conservation Month. These include unplugging idle electronics and remembering to turn off the lights after leaving a room.
One habit Gonzalez is attempting to establish is an every-other-day overnight charging schedule for both her phone and her portable charger. On the night she isn’t charging her devices, she intends to charge her phone using the portable charger to conserve energy.
Gonzalez said that despite what people think, decorative LED lights consume less energy than overhead lights and are a good energy-efficient alternative.
Quawiy said while last year’s energy consumption was unusual given COVID-19’s impact on residential building capacities, overall there was a significant decrease in energy consumption.
Quawiy said last year, the winners of the Kill-a-Watt competition received a pizza party. While unable to disclose what this year’s prize is, Gonzalez believes it is one people will enjoy.