Energy literacy

Hear Energy Stories from UMN Morris students and learn how their homes use energy.

Energy Stories

Mckenzie Dice ‘19

What is some general information about you? (Hobbies, interests. involvement at UMM, etc)

I have two cats that are my best friends. Their names are Doja and Mocha. I like to knit and sleep. I am in MCSA as the Student Rep to the Regents. I am the Morris Model International partnership intern at the office of sustainability.

What type of home do you live in and about how much square footage do you have?

An apartment above some businesses on Atlantic Avenue. There is another apartment next to ours and they are super old. We do not have control over our heating because they have the thermostat in the other apartment.... yeah. We do not pay for heat though. I think it is probably about 850 sqft or so.

How many roommates do you have and how does the home use your energy?

Just one human and two cats plus me. Electricity (appliances, charging things, TV, heated blanket, lights, etc.). The only other bill we are responsible for is internet.

How is your home heated and how is your water heated?

I do not know for sure how the water is heated but I would assume it is gas. The home is heated by OLD OLD radiators and I think they are gas/fossil fuels. Overall not electric. Again we do not pay for heat or water, or water heating...

How frequently do you assess your energy bill?

Define "assess". I look at it, we pay it. Not super in depth analysis, but I do note how many kWh we use each month. Stay tuned for the details on that.

After moving in, were your utility bills what you expected them to be?

We paid for out heating and cooling at the last apartment we lived in and it was about $50 per month, so I was expecting it to be about that.

How much do you pay in energy bills per month? How much energy do you consume (in units)?

Our electricity bill for the month of March was $25.63. We used 143kW hours.

After moving in, were your utility bills what you expected them to be?

No, they were less.

What do you currently do to be more efficient with your energy? (LEDs, Energy Star appliances, general energy saving practices, etc.)

LEDs, unplug things we aren't using them (toaster, etc.). Only turn on lights when we need them, etc.

As it relates to energy usage and billing, what do you wish you would have known before or around when you moved-in?

I think I knew everything I needed to know. Our landlords were able to tell us the general cost for electricity in the apartment before we moved in.

As it relates to energy, what mistakes have you made and what are lessons that you have learned?

I think just finding ways to be more efficient is always key, and there are always things to learn. I am a big proponent of caulking my windows yearly before winter, and we use plastic to cover the windows in the winter time, too. But, I wish that I did not have to do those things and I wish landlords in Morris would just learn that part of being a landlord is keeping up with regular maintenance that goes into home efficiency. But it seems like either they don't care or they are just ignorant of these things. I think some advice for students is to always ask what the monthly electricity bill is like when they move in somewhere new. Since this is technically confidential information they can't always give you exact numbers, but maybe ask if they had to estimate. (I think this is a dumb rule btw.)

Would or do you (and your roommates) collectively pay an additional $10 per month in your total energy bill for your house to be 100% supplied by green, renewable energy? Have you heard of any programs like this?

YES. We will be doing this when we move to Boulder, actually.

Abbey Dickhudt ‘19

What is some general information about you? (Hobbies, interests. involvement at UMM, etc)

I am really interested in cooking, gardening, knitting, biking, and spending time with my friends. All of which are great hobbies to have while in Morris, and which connect with my involvement in Organic Gardening Club and Big Friend Little Friend.

What type of home do you live in and about how much square footage do you have?

I live in a small 3-bedroom household, and I am unsure of the square footage, but it is somewhat small.

How many roommates do you have and how does the home use your energy?

I have two roommates, and a lot of the energy use in our home goes to supplying our light bulbs, electronics, and appliances. We are a relatively low energy usage household which is really good.

How is your home heated and how is your water heated?

Hmm, this is a good question, and I do not think I have an adequate answer. Although I've learned more about my bills, usage, and such, I still do not have a firm understanding of which company is responsible for which part of my house's functioning. This goes to show...I still have a lot to learn.

How frequently do you assess your energy bill?

I have to pay my energy bills monthly, but I do not think this qualifies as assessing my bill. I think assessing would mean critically looking at usage, cost, and if that should be reduced, which I most frequently looked at in the winter when our bills spiked in price.

After moving in, were your utility bills what you expected them to be?

No, they were not what I expected them to be and this originally freaked me out. In general, learning to manage rent and bills was intimidating, but after a few months off-campus and with guidance from friends, this became a less intimidating process. Also, learning to manage our utilities and reduce them as needed was also encouraging and helpful in this process.

How much do you pay in energy bills per month? How much energy do you consume (in units)?

This is an answer that I am unsure about, but often it is around $70 a month, and I do not know what that means for consumption in units.

After moving in, were your utility bills what you expected them to be?

Same from above!

What do you currently do to be more efficient with your energy? (LEDs, Energy Star appliances, general energy saving practices, etc.)

We use LEDs in bulbs that we've had to replace, limit our usage of lighting use, plastic fit the windows in the window, and turn down the heat when possible. All of these are general energy saving practices that can help reduce energy costs.

As it relates to energy usage and billing, what do you wish you would have known before or around when you moved-in?

I wish I would have known which energy saving practices I could implement right away to keep costs low. I also wish I would have, and still could, learn the differences of each of my utility bills and what they are all responsible for. This gets confusing sometimes. Another good thing to learn as a renter are the programs available for energy assistance, and I think these are important to learn as students, especially as budgets are often tight. One last thing that I think I would have liked to have learned right away are my rights as renters when it comes to the care of my home in general.

As it relates to energy, what mistakes have you made and what are lessons that you have learned?

I have made the mistake of consuming too much energy and paying for this, literally, when the bills came. From this, I learned the importance of trying to implement saving practices as soon as possible.

Would or do you (and your roommates) collectively pay an additional $10 per month in your total energy bill for your house to be 100% supplied by green, renewable energy? Have you heard of any programs like this?

I believe we would, as that is a pretty good deal. I have heard of some programs of this, but I have not known how to enroll in this.

Otter Tail TailWinds

Renewable Energy Program 

Morris Model 2016