10 Ways to Save Money and Energy in College

As a college student, any opportunity to save money is appreciated and needed. Usually the more energy you use, the more money you spend. Here is a list of easy ways to save, or earn, some extra cash while reducing your energy footprint.


1. Recycle Your Clothes at H&M for a 15% Off Discount on Your Next Purchase

H&M runs an awesome program to collect and recycle garments. You can bring in any item of clothing from any brand, and recycle it at your local H&M. Even better, you then receive a 15% off discount on your next purchase!


2. Spend as Much Time on Campus as Possible

The more time you spend on campus, the more amenities you take advantage of that you would have to pay for yourself if you were at your apartment (e.g. toilet paper, napkins, and paper towels). This also lowers the electricity bill because it decreases the amount of time you are home with the lights turned on in your bedroom, etc. The lights in the library and dining halls will be turned on regardless of the occupancy, so just go there to do your homework rather than staying at home.


3. Unplug Your Chargers When You Are Not Using Them

Most tend to leave their phone chargers plugged in somewhere in their bedroom when they are not home. Even though you are not using the charger, it is still taking some energy from the outlet. Simply unplugging your chargers when they are not in use saves you the money on your electric bill. This rule of thumb applies to any plug, not just your phone charger. If you have a printer, lamp, and phone charger all on one power strip, simply turn the power strip off when you leave the room to save yourself some money. Try unplugging your laptop once it has reached full charge rather than leaving it on your desk charging all day if not in use.


4. Eat On Campus as Much as Possible

This saves you the energy it takes to run the dishwasher and microwave in your apartment, meaning saving you money on your electric bill.


4. Sell Your Old Clothes

Take your old clothes to Plato’s closet or sell them on Free and For Sale, Poshmark, etc.; rather than leaving them in storage under your bed. Buying from these sites also saves money as it is cheaper than buying brand new items and saves the energy it takes to manufacture and distribute new clothing.

5. Rent Dresses Using Curtsy

Curtsy is a great app for Virginia Tech students to rent dresses. You probably have a few cocktail dresses in your closet from past date parties that you do not want to sell for good, but are not about to take pictures in again anytime soon. Curtsy allows you to safely connect with other girls on campus to rent them your dresses, so you can earn a little cash from something sitting in your closet. Renting dresses from other girls again saves you the money it costs to buy a new dress and the energy it takes drive your car out to go shopping for a new one.

6. Turn Your Cellular Data Off

Turn cellular usage off for apps you do not need to have updating in the background when you do not have Wi-Fi; this will save you money by avoiding the charge from exceeding your plan’s data usage.

7. Use Transportation Wisely

Try to use public transportation, walk, bike, or carpool as much as possible. The Blacksburg Transit is free for Virginia tech students. I have the app on my phone but it has not always been reliable in my experience during event weekends, etc., so I would suggest googling “Blacksburg Transit” and looking at the route maps and schedules to double check your bus times. If you are anxious to take the bus for the first time, then find someone else in your dorm to join you who is also in need of groceries.


8. Buy and Sell Used Textbooks

This might seem like an obvious way to make or save money, but used textbooks are underrated by many. If the books are annotated by previous users, it is not always a bad thing. Previous students probably wrote in thoughts or notes that honestly make more sense than the textbook explanation for some topics. Used books are typically available for purchase through the Virginia Tech bookstore, Amazon, Free and For Sale, or your graduating class’ Facebook page.

9. Recycle

Keep a recycling bin in your apartment kitchen in addition to a trash can. My roommate and I used a box from move in to hold recyclables in our kitchen. Most apartment complexes in Blacksburg should have recycling bins right next to the dumpsters. Here is what you can recycle in Blacksburg.

10. Use LED Bulbs

Swap your fluorescent light bulbs for LED or CFL bulbs! LED and CFL bulbs use significantly less energy and last longer, so they will save you money on your electric bill. According to the US Department of Energy, LED’s and CFL’s use 25-80% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs and last between 3-25 times as long! According to Sustainable Blacksburg, Home Depot and Lowes in Christiansburg both will recycle your old CFL bulbs. Read here for where exactly to recycle those bulbs in stores, details provided by the Sustainable Blacksburg website.


Hopefully these tips can help you save some cash while in college, while also reducing your energy consumption. Your energy use can have a huge affect on those around you, so taking action to reduce it has a positive impact on everyone.

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