Quick and easy energy saving tips for college students

Saving energy is good for the environment and your wallet. Here are a few simple steps you can take each day.

Written by Vera O'Riordan


My name is Vera O’Riordan and I’m a final year Energy Engineering student in UCC. I am currently working on two campus-wide campaigns to highlight energy wastage on University College Cork’s campus . The first is USI ‘Student Switch Off, an international campaign funded by Horizon 2020 to encourage student action on climate change. The second campaign is called #WattsOnUCC as part of UCC Green Campus.

Whether you’re worried about climate change, wasting energy or saving money, you can take control of your energy usage in your student accommodation.  These simple tips will get you off on the right foot…print!

Put a lid on it

When boiling your spuds/pasta/rice, use a saucepan that has a lid. Not only does your food cook faster but the lid contains the steam that is a higher temperature than the water to save up to 90% of that heat energy. Faster food and reduced carbon emissions? It’s a win-win!

Check the kettle water level

As you fill up the kettle for your morning cuppa, check that it is filled to the amount of water you will need only. Reducing the amount of water in the kettle means the kettle is boiling for a shorter amount of time and uses less energy. Save yourself time.

Microwaveable meals

I bet you weren’t expecting an article in favour of microwaveable food! Often oven based food can also be cooked in a microwave. The nutritional value of microwaveable foods is on the increase too, so maybe it’s time we changed the way we looked at the appliance? Did you know that baby potatoes can be cooked in a microwave? Soups are an amazing healthy option for the microwave too.

Wrap up

Keep the thermostat down and throw on your favourite jumper. The cooler weather is the perfect excuse to get yourself all wrapped up and get a cute jumper or scarf. Bonus points if you get it from a ReUse/Charity shop!

Give your boiler a break

Many student apartments clear out from the end of Christmas exams until after the New Year. This period of time is the perfect opportunity to switch off your boiler completely. If you are unsure how to do this, give your landlord a call. It is not economical to switch the boiler off for shorter periods of time (over night, for example, or over a weekend) as then it would take a very long time and a lot of start-up energy to heat up again.

Shaving with a basin

Get sharp for the next night out using less hot water. Generally less hot water is used when shaving with a basin as opposed to shaving while showering because it can take a while. Bonus points if you’re rocking hairy legs, of course!

30 degrees for a washing machine

Washing clothing at higher temperatures causes them to wear out faster. If you are washing lightly stained clothing, a low temperature of 30 degrees with a good washing detergent is sufficient and gives your clothes a longer life.

Bonus tip: be sure to pick up an environmentally friendly washing detergent.

Victory Lap

This is a fun idea I’ve incorporated into my own student house. Right before I head into bed for the night I put my favourite song on my phone and do a ‘victory lap’ around the house –  checking appliances have been turned off, unplugging devices and making sure everything is alright. There is nothing worse than lying in bed at night wondering if the oven or the gas cooker has been left on. Make your home safer and more energy efficient – your housemates will thank you for it. 

Student Switch Off is a not-for-profit international campaign encouraging student action on climate change. It is funded under Horizon 2020. We run energy-saving competitions within universities in the UK, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, Lithuania, and Romania. Follow them on Instagram and snapchat @switchoff.ie.

This article was written by a SpunOut.ie volunteer. Check out our volunteering opportunities here and get in touch if you’re interested in getting involved.

Our work is supported by