College campuses can be notorious for old dorm buildings that are wildly inefficient and uncomfortable for their residents. Since most students aren't even allowed to put nails in the wall, the idea of making energy improvements might seem like an impossible task. But there are solutions, from the temporary (and non-destructive!) to rallying your neighbors and RA to push for a more comfortable and responsible living environment.
Seal those leaks!
Sealing leaks is one of the best ways to cut down on annoying drafts and save energy. While most universities would probably frown upon their residents breaking out the caulking gun, there are a few temporary things you can do:
If you notice a lot of cold air coming in around your windows, a few sheets of insulating plastic will make a huge difference. Just take the plastic and place it onto your window frame. Leave at least an inch of space between the plastic and your window, and never apply the sheets to directly to window glass. After winter has come and gone, remove the sheets carefully, and your window frames will be left scuff-free.
If you live on a first-floor hallway with an exterior door that's opened frequently, you should also consider installing a door sweep to keep cool air out. For cracks and leaks on your ceiling or around window frames, doors and air registers, ask your RA about getting a maintenance staffer in to install caulk or weather stripping.
Rearrange: fitting all of your belongings in a small space is no easy task, but be careful to make sure that you're not blocking or covering heating vents in the process. A piece of advice from Earth911:
Try to leave at least a foot of space around your air registers for maximum efficiency, and avoid stacking books, clothes and other items on top of the heating unit.
Talk to your RA - You may not have much control over your building's mechanical systems, but your Residential Advisor can be a good ally in getting answers:
Ask him or her about the maintenance of your dorm's heating system (the EPA recommends frequent air filter changes and a pre-season checkup each year). If your RA doesn't know the answers, he or she will be able to point you in the direction of someone who does.
And while you're on the subject of energy conservation, ask your RA what temperature the dorm's thermostat is set to, and bring up a few eco questions. Who decided on the temperature and why? Has a programmable thermostat been installed? If you've noticed your dorm mates complaining about being too warm, ask if the temperature could be reduced to save energy.
Read More Tips: How to Weatherize Your Dorm Room
(Image: Apartment Therapy)