Frequently Asked Questions
Welcome to UVa Energy & Utilities FAQ. Please click on a question below to display the answer. If you have a question we haven’t answered, please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frequently Asked Questions by Division
Does recycling really make a difference?
Yes! UVa recycled in 2009 alone:
16.84 tons of aluminum = 28,038 gallons of gasoline.
2,051 tons of mixed paper = 379,435 gallons of gasoline
How much of UVa’s waste end up in a landfill?
Only 27.85% of our waste stream ends up in a landfill, that’s a 72.15% diversion rate and it gets better every year.
What do the numbers on plastic bottles mean?
The numbers represent the type of Resin that makes up the plastic bottle. Some recycling facilities can only recycle certain numbers, but at UVa, we recycle numbers 1-7.
- Polyethylene Terephthalate (PETE/PET #1)
- High Density Polyethylene (HDPE #2)
- Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC #3)
- Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE #4)
- Polypropylene (PP #5)
- Polystyrene (PS #6)
- Other (#7)
How much energy does the average person consume?
The average Virginian consumes 14,076 kwh in a year, so each resident of Virginia produces 14,076 lbs of CO2 annually. With 7,750,000 residents in the state of Virginia, we produce over 54,544,500 tons of CO2 annually.
NOTE: According to the Department of Energy, 1 kilowatt hour equal to about a 1 lb of CO2.
Does turning off one light bulb really make a difference?
A 100 Watt light bulb burns .10kwh an hour. If you leave a light on for 10 hours, you have released 1 pound of CO2 into the atmosphere. If we take the time to turn off lights and other electronics, all those little efforts really do add up to big results.
Is it true that it takes more energy to turn fluorescent lights off and on, as opposed to leaving them on?
No. This is a common misconception. At one time the technology in lighting was not very advanced, and the energy used to turn the light on in some systems did, in fact, use up a lot of energy, but this is no longer the case. Currently, the trade off time is only around 10 seconds, so if you are headed out of a classroom or your office, hit the switch.
It seems like a lot of the buildings on grounds are too cold during the summer months. Why doesn’t UVa turn up the thermostat to save money and energy?
The majority of buildings on central grounds get their air conditioning from a very efficient Chilled Water loop system. This system cools the supply air to 55 degrees. Each building is different, but many have a re-heat type system that uses heated piped steam to reheat the air back up to the desired air temperature set for the zone or space. Having a cooler temperature setting actually saves energy by not reheating up the air. However, we must reheat to a minimum level of comfort for all the occupants. Currently, in our humid climate, this is the best way we have of removing the humidity from the air to keep our buildings healthy, and free of mold and mildew. We are continuously trying to improve our systems by increasing comfort and unit efficiency, while still focusing on decreasing energy consumption.
What is a "green" building?
Green buildings utilize environmentally friendly materials and technologies to reduce a building’s energy, waste and water consumption. At UVa, we have made a commitment to ensure all new buildings are green buildings by adopting the design standards set by United States Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED program. The University currently has 20 projects registered with the U.S. Green Building Council seeking LEED Certification. There are 16 registered projects on UVa's Central Grounds, at the U.Va Health System and at the U.Va research parks and 4 registered projects at the UVa's College at Wise.
How can I save energy?
Setting computers to “sleep mode” during short breaks and avoiding the use of screen savers.
Turning off computers and monitors at night.
Setting your thermostats to 78 in the summer and 68 in the winter will reduce energy and save you money.
Using task lighting with compact fluorescent lamps instead of room lights whenever possible.
Unplugging office equipment at the end of each day and when not in use for extended periods during the day, if allowed under manufacturer’s recommendations.
Using smart power strips that are off most of the time and on only when needed.
Using window shades:
On hot days, lower the shades on windows that receive direct sunlight.
On cold days, keep the curtains and blinds shut to help retain interior heat.
Does turning my computer on and off use more energy than leaving it on?
Computers require a small surge of power to start up but this amount is far less than the power a computer consumes when fully operating for more than three minutes. The average desktop uses 65-250 watts of power and the typical laptop uses about 15-45 watts. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends turning off your monitor if you won’t be using your computer in the next 20 minutes and to shut down the entire system if you’re not going to use it in the next two hours. But with modern computers equipped to handle 40,000 on/off cycles, it wouldn’t hurt to shut down your computer more often.
Is it worth unplugging appliances or is turning them off just as good?
Many appliances continue using energy even when turned off or on standby. This includes computers, televisions, kitchen appliances, stereos, battery chargers, and any device with a clock, sensor, or lighted display. Five percent of the energy we use in the United States is consumed by appliances that are on standby.
For more rates of “vampire” energy consumption, check out this chart from Good magazine: http://awesome.goodmagazine.com/transparency/008/trans008vampireenergy.html
Why should I stop using bottled water?
The Pacific Institute estimates that producing the bottles for American consumption in 2006 required the equivalent of more than 17 million barrels (2,700,000 m3) of oil. While some of the larger water cooler bottles are re-used, many companies may only do so around 25 times before discarding.