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Stop wasting energy!

Unplugging equipment that's secretly guzzling electricity, putting the curtains behind the radiator and only using a water-saving showerhead. The students participating in the Student Energy Race are given tips that everyone who cares about the environment and their wallets should learn from.

Use a water-saving showerhead

‘What does an eight-minute shower cost?’ energy saving expert Neeldert van Laar asks the four inhabitants of the Jan van Goyenkade 5. Teaching a workshop in the characteristic building on 12 November, he is trying to inform the ladies about saving energy. The answer is higher than they expected at about 45 eurocents per shower, though the total sum is usually even higher as the ladies admit to usually showering for longer than eight minutes. ‘Then we should lower the water temperature,’ one of the inhabitants suggests. Fortunately, Van Laar has another good tip: buy a water-saving showerhead. Those cost as little as 15 euros and will decrease water and energy usage by about 30 percent.

Neeldert van Laar toont het energieverbruik van de bewoonsters.
Neeldert van Laar discusses energy use with the inhabitants.


The eight inhabitants of the Jan van Goyenkade 5 have been chosen by student housing corporation DUWO to participate in this energy competition. Their energy bills aren’t shockingly high, but there’s room for improvement in every home. The students are keen to learn more too, as the energy bills are a heavy burden on their budget. Every participating home will be given a workshop filled with saving tips.

Stopping energy waste

Van Laar critically examines the room of one of the inhabitants, checking each device. Many electronic devices, from the television to the lamps, are plugged in even when not being used. Though not switched on, those devices continue to use electricity. These are secret energy guzzlers, he warns the students. These unused devices can account for at least 12 percent of the energy bills in an average household. The inhabitants are shocked by that number, and immediately agree on an important pledge: to leave nothing plugged in unnecessarily or to use an extension lead with an on/off button.

Wat voor lampjes zitten er in de kroonluchter?
What kind of lamps are in that chandelier?

LED lights are better than energy-efficient lamps

‘What kind of lamps are in that chandelier? And in that shaded lamp?’ Van Laar asks the inhabitants. The one has an energy-efficient lamp, the other an old-fashioned bulb that uses up to five times as much power as the first. Even better, Van Laar explains, would be an LED light. ‘LEDs are eight times more efficient than regular bulbs, and are far less polluting when thrown out.’


Don't buy cheap energy guzzlers

Het studentenhuis Herengracht 41-43 in Leiden was de winnaar van 2014/2015. De bewoners bespaarden 58%. Foto: DUWO
The student home Herengracht 41-43 in Leiden won last year’s edition of the Student Energy Race by saving 58% on their energy bills. Photo: DUWO.

The energy expert also warns us about energy-guzzling devices, such as refrigerators and water boilers. Check the power of a device before purchasing it, he advises, as cheaper options often have more power – which is expressed in wattage. These devices will use a lot more electricity and are a nightmare for your energy bills. This means that energy-saving, more expensive options are often cheaper in the long run.

Keep the doors closed

Heating also tends to drive up costs. Keeping a large, badly isolated home heated can easily cost up to €40 a day when its freezing. In cramped student rooms couches are also often placed against radiators where they block heat flow. Van Laar therefore has a whole list of tips for students: keep a 20 cm distance between the radiators and your furniture, use draught excluder strips and remember to close all the doors! ‘But that is less inviting,’ someone comments. ‘We could also just wear warm jumpers.’


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Student Energy Race 

In this energy competition, student houses from Leiden, Delft and The Hague are battling to find out who can save the most energy. On average, last year’s participants each saved 38% . The competition will take place over the course of six months and will kick off in December 2015. Because each home faces different energy costs – due to the level of insulation and the number of inhabitants – the winner will be determined by looking at each home’s energy bills over the past four years. DUWO will also provide participants with a smart energy monitor, enabling students to monitor their consumption levels in real time. Smaller prizes are awarded every month, with a main prize being awarded at the end of the competition.

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