An Energy Interview with Kaptain Kilowatt

Story posted October 16, 2013

Sitting in the Smith Union café, Kaptain Kilowatt’s passion for energy conserving measures is palpable. His verdant cape and Robin Hood-esque cap suggest a man whose reflexes and intentions are honed specifically for energy savings investigation. And an energy investigation is just what Hannah Tennent '14 and Omar Sohail '15 desired for their Wednesday afternoon.   

The following is their conversation:

HT & OS: Everyone wants to know what this energy competition is about.

KK: Bowdoin is going on twelve years hosting this competition. We realize that students, especially first years, arrive on campus from so many backgrounds. Some from households with surge protectors and draconian energy saving parents, others from households with AC units in every window and incandescents in every socket. This is the College’s opportunity to get students on the same page: that saving electricity is good on many fronts.

HT & OS: Like what fronts?

KK: Economically. Last year, Bowdoin saved $2,212 in just 30 days of consciously saving electricity. 2011’s competition saw $3,266 saved.

Environmentally. Last year, students saved six tons of CO2 from being emitted. Put in a more concrete analogy, that’s nearly three Maine homes taken off the grid for an entire year! Think about that, just 30 days of saving electricity in some of our dorms can translate into huge savings.

Socially. I don’t think it is unfair to say that conserving electricity is a socially-responsible action to take. The Common Good at Bowdoin is very prescient for how our students will live their lives post-graduation. I want them to leave realizing that we have many resources, and it’s important to reduce our needs so that we can share.

HT & OS: So this competition is important. What can students do to save electricity?

KK: There are the obvious, but crucial steps: shutting off the lights when you leave a room or see no one in a room. Avoiding the elevator. Doing your laundry smarter by using cold water, washing and drying only full loads, air drying certain items.

Dorms that win generally go the extra mile. I’ve seen it all, from entire floors studying together under one light (or in another building entirely) to college house parties using LED string lights to having short shower competitions (hot water circulation takes electricity).  

A more substantive list can be found on the Sustainability website. And energy use can be tracked real time on the Building Dashboard. I love these tools.

HT & OS: Lastly, you’re looking really good lately. What’s new?

KK: Flattery! I am sporting a new cape and hat. Maybe that’s it. But October always gets me feeling groovy.

"This Energy Competition is a competition in every sense of the word. It's incredible to see how much energy Bowdoin students are able to conserve."