Energy Diet

Actually, I’ve found it difficult to tally my stats for the gross amount of many forms of energy we used, except the electricity. You know, here in China, a dorm is usually shared by more than four students, and we are not an exception. The electricity used in a dormitory is calculated as a whole.

As far as I know, universities distribute a certain amount of electricity to each dorm for free. If you use more than the amount, you’ll have to buy it at the service center on the campus. For Harbin Institute of Technology, the amount is 25 kilowatt hours each dormitory per month.

To be clear, the electrical appliances we can use are limited within computers, lamps, hair-driers, cell phones and some other things like this. This semester, we’ve got a fourth computer in our room. We also have more assignments to be done with computers, so we all spend more time at home studying and chatting. That caused an increase in the electricity we use by 5 kilowatt hours electricity per month.

Now we use about 30 kilowatt hours of electricity — that is, 5 kilowatt-hours above the average standards. If calculated by year, it will mean the amount of electricity we use is increased by 50 kilowatt hours to 300 kilowatt hours, factoring in the two months away from the school.

Regarding the other energy forms we use, I can only generally calculate water consumption. In my estimation, the water we use within the dorm every day should be about 8 liters (2 gallons) per person, including 2 liters for drinking and 6 liters for washing. But that’s not an accurate number since we don’t have a water meter because we use the public tap room shared by the whole floor.

Let me tell you the situation we’re in. Harbin has pretty dry air, so we’ve got used to drinking a lot of water to avoid thirst. In the buildings where we study, we have other convenient hot drinking water supplies.

As to the washing, we go to public bathrooms to take showers, where the fee is charged by how long time the water is on. I think it’s a good way to encourage us to save the water for shower, and it really works. So the washing we do within the dorm is only daily self washing except the shower, fruit-washing and clothes-washing.

Besides electricity and water, I can hardly calculate the amount of natural gas and gasoline we use since we don’t own a car nor a kitchen.

However, I can still calculate the meat I consume per month and some other things concerning energy-saving. For certain reasons, such as the influence of one of my friends, who is newly vegetarian, and the consideration for health, I haven’t eaten much meat since this semester. I often eat in the canteen on the campus, order one or two vegetable dishes with or without meat in one meal and get some yogurt for snacks.

But during a week I will ensure I eat no more than 250 grams (9 ounces) of meat, both for health and for the tastes. With respect to bottled water, I don’t drink bottled water actually, for I have a free hot water supply in nearly every building I go to, so all I need to do is just take an empty bottle with me. That’s also because I think bottled water contains too much sugar, additives and little nutrition.

So that’s a sketch of my life concerning energy consumption, and I will try to learn more about what else I can do in the days to come.


  1. Christina Nunez
    May 31, 2011, 10:22 pm

    Hi Zong, really interesting snapshot of how living in your dorm has affected your energy use. I’m curious, what are the prices like for shower time and extra kilowatt hours? Do you think they are high enough to encourage people to use less, or do some people just pay more for the convenience?

  2. Zong Yu Dorm
    June 1, 2011, 8:59 am

    That’s a good point ! Our shower fee is counted by how long you turn the nozzle on. When you put the card through which your fee is paid in the specific area, you turn the nozzle on and it begins to draw money from the card. It’s charged 2 yuan every 40 minutes of use. Though it’s not so expensive, but since it’s calculated by the time you are using the water, it does make us much more conscious of how much water we use. But when it comes to electricity,the electricity price is 0.5 yuan per kilowatt. Actually, we tend to pay more to get the convenience since it’s not easy to restrict the amount of electricity we use within 25 kilowatt per month if all four people in a dorm have computers. The biggest amount we’ve used is 32 kilowatt, ^ ^