NIU advised to control high-energy costs

By Donald Roth Jr.

As the current recession shows no signs of diminishing and energy costs are skyrocketing, NIU students and faculty have numerous options to control energy costs.

While this winter has been relatively mild compared to others, the cost of electricity and energy related products has increased.

Commonwealth Edison spokeswoman Margaret Winters said there are many ways to cut costs, like leaving air vents and radiators unblocked and checking any furnace filters that may be active.

She said one of the most overlooked and rudimentary ways to lower energy costs is to lower the thermostat.

“For every one degree you lower your thermostat, you will save about 3 percent in electricity costs,” she said.

Ron Belden, NIU physical plant energy/mechanical engineer, said students living in the residence halls have fewer options to conserve energy than apartment dwellers.

“Turning off lights and closing windows is about all they have under their direct control,” he said.

One NIU student agreed.

“Making sure all lights are off and windows are closed,” said Megan Janiszewski, freshman psychology major, “that’s really all we can do.”

Students, faculty and staff living in private residences or apartments have the most control over their electricity costs.

Checking all weather stripping and molding in your home annually is crucial, as well as overlooked, Winters said.

These are basic steps in the right direction but are hardly the only weapons in the arsenal to fight heating costs.

Winters said Commonwealth Edison’s light bulb program for all residential customers is an economical way to save money.

For 70 cents a month, program participants are eligible to pick up as many as four incandescent light bulbs a month, a significant savings over store-bought bulbs.

This is not the only program designed to control costs, Winters said.

She said Commonwealth Edison recently began offering a new compact fluorescent light bulb which can save customers up to $50 and will last up to 13 times as long as traditional bulbs.

While these are available for light bulb program participants only, they also offer a tremendous savings over similar light bulbs purchased at hardware stores.

Winters said Commonwealth Edison subsidizes these programs as a service to their customers.

Many other unorthodox methods exist to allow for great energy savings.

Winters said cooking all meals in a microwave and taking showers instead of baths will allow for energy savings and give your pocketbook a break as well.

Additional ways for students, faculty and staff on campus to pitch in to combat energy costs is to let the repairmen do their job.

“Leave thermostats alone in campus buildings … call the heating plant for repair and adjustments,” Belden said.