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Energy conservation begins with us

Letters to the Editor | Tuesday, September 23, 2008

One of the events offered as part of energy week is a tour of the Notre Dame Power Plant.

My roommate and I decided to take the tour, hoping it would be a bit more than a way to avoid studying for our linear algebra test. I was expecting mostly undergraduate students on the tour, but was surprised to find a few professors, a priest, and several adults in business casual outfits.

The tour was much more than an overview of how energy was produced from fuel and shuttled to campus- not to say that isn’t interesting, just maybe not to the average reader – but also a real idea of what effects my energy usage has on my community.

With the Forum this week, energy sources and usage is getting a lot of attention. But besides the fact that its the new hip thing to be green, it’s important to realize that the effects of our energy conscience are everywhere.

For example, I learned later in the tour that the well-dressed adults were from accounting, and were on the tour to see what sort of accountability there was for energy usage in specific buildings. One of the students was there to learn about why our power plant uses coal rather than cleaner fuels. One of the professors was asking about the power usage of the research facilities he accessed on campus. Some people at the plant were thinking about the environment, others about money and some (me and my roommate) about if our engineering degrees would require us to read such complicated displays.

But all joking aside, it wasn’t exactly an uplifting message. The fact is, a lot of the energy that the plant is forced to produce is wasted. Some TVs use up to 60 percent of the power when they are in standby as when they are on. Our school used enough hot water to supply 20,000 homes.

So go to the Forum, read the energy policies of the presidential candidates, but whatever you do, don’t forget that the biggest difference you can make is the act of moving your arm two feet to turn off a light, or stepping on the power strip that connects all of your appliances.

Our tour guide has been working at the plant for seven years, and he says his kids have always complained because he turns off the TV at night rather than keep it on standby, which causes the TV to take a minute to turn on in the morning.

Well he not only pays the bills for his energy use, he puts in the hours for ours. Even though we don’t have to send a check for our energy use, someone does. Who knows, maybe that gets added onto fees as well.

So next time you are about to walk out the door with your laptop on sleep mode, think to yourself, “Well, maybe if I turn off my computer, football tickets will be cheaper next year.” It could be true.

Steve Mattix


Dillon Hall

Sept. 22