Save energy by learning 'window hygiene' habits

Did you know that Western’s heating loads have increased nearly 15% this year? Our heating is fueled by natural gas and this translates to an increase in our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and utility costs.  Both of those are key components in our Sustainability and Equity goals, and each of us can help mitigate those impacts. While much the increases are related to higher ventilation in response to COVID 19, which has proven effective; we’re observing a compounding factor of more windows left open overnight. As you are likely aware, we have encouraged opening windows to improve air quality, and this new behavior has a bit of a learning curve. We ask that you all take a mindful approach to leaving a room so that we all develop window hygiene habits in a similar way to the mask hygiene habits that are second nature now.   

Light switches benefit from the three laws of real estate: location, location, location.  Windows are not as lucky and are rarely located near the exit paths in rooms. This means that it will take an intentional effort to develop window hygiene or the habit of checking that windows are closed when leaving a room is important. For comparison, a typical buildings lose 33% of their thermal energy through air leakage with all windows and doors closed.  Windows left open essentially pour heated air or energy into the cold twilight hours.  This quickly negates the hard work done to improve wall system design and prevent leakage in Western’s buildings. The simple one minute act of checking and closing windows will plug a giant hole in our building.  As the winter break approaches practice closing windows as windows left open over the break could also freeze pipes and cause additional damage.

As Jack Canfield said, “your habits will determine your future,” in this case your  “window hygiene” habits will stay with you throughout your life and will add to the educational impact of your time here at Western.  We can simultaneously protect each other’s health, reduce our impact on the environment, and support affordability at Western.  We’ve made great strides in all of those categories over the years and closing windows will be particularly important this winter.

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Monday, November 29, 2021 - 7:44am