Students Challenged to Power Down for February

Research shows that it takes about 21 days of doing something differently for people to change their habits. With that in mind, Eco-Reps Ariel Russ ’13 (right) and Sarah Hastings ’15 have launched the War of the Watts, a competition that challenges Mount Holyoke students to reduce electricity consumption in their residence halls over the next three weeks.

“We’re hoping students will keep switching off the lights after the competition ends,” said Hastings.

The hall residents with the lowest metered power use at the end of the challenge, which runs February 8–28, will win an evening snack date with President Lynn Pasquerella (“Nutella with President Pasquerella”).

Their goal is for students to learn easy ways to reduce their electricity consumption, said Russ.

“We want students to learn that they have the power to make an impact on energy conservation,” she said. “We’re not asking them to do anything difficult, just to make a few small changes in their day.”

Hastings has produced a video that shows a number of ways to cut power use, such as switching off lights, computers, microwaves, phone and battery chargers, and not using mini fridges. Student representatives from the College’s Green Living Council are promoting the event in the residence halls.

Russ and Hastings are working with Russell Boudreau, HVAC and utilities specialist in facilities management, to measure electricity use in the 17 residence halls that have meters. Several dorms will be combined to make meter readings possible: North and South Rockefeller Halls will be measured as one dorm, as will the two Mandelles Halls and Pearsons Hall and Annex.

Meters will be read on Fridays, and the results will be posted the following Monday for students to review.

“It’s like a horse race,” said Russ. “We want the students to see how their dorm is doing each week compared to the others.”