Electrically Savvy or Not? Tentative Portrait of the Romanian Student as a Consumer of Electric Devices and Utilities

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Electrically Savvy or Not? Tentative Portrait of the Romanian Student as a Consumer of Electric Devices and Utilities


The findings are presented below, indicating the energy consumption data, the frequency of the use of electrical devices, and the recognized energy-saving behaviors shared by students. Differences between on-campus residents and students who live in the city, as well as between genders, are highlighted when statistically relevant.

4.2. Use of Electrical Devices Influencing the Energy Consumption

A more in-depth analysis of the behavior of electricity consumption among students allows for an exploration of the various habits and preferences that influence overall energy consumption. Such an analysis not only creates the possibility of forecasting their implications for energy efficiency and sustainability, but also explains the consumption patterns for the investigated population (Figure 2). It is also useful to determine potential areas of intervention on the part of the university administration, either in the form of investing in new equipment or in improving energy management in residential buildings.
The analysis indicated a high use of refrigerators and computers, with daily usage rates of 93.45% and 71.36%, respectively. It is essential to maintain a high energy efficiency for appliances that operate continuously and consume electricity around the clock, such as refrigerators. In the case of computers, applying energy-saving strategies and turning them off when not in use can greatly reduce energy consumption and the carbon footprint, as demonstrated by researchers who measured such an effect of the IT equipment used by the student population [28]. Furthermore, the frequent use of electric hobs, with a rate of 16.62%, indicated a preference for home cooking, which also presented opportunities to improve energy efficiency by adopting more efficient cooking technologies.

Hair dryers (8.80%) and electric kettles (6.65%) were used less frequently but consumed a significant amount of energy over short periods of time. Awareness campaigns on efficient use and low-consumption alternatives can optimize consumption.

The low frequency of use of air conditioners, electric radiators, toasters, vacuum cleaners, and hair straighteners can be attributed to the limited access of students to such devices or to the adoption of alternative solutions for their use. The use of air conditioners (5.08%) and electric radiators (2.93%) can be influenced by weather conditions and can vary significantly between seasons.

In refining the data by the residential status regarding the use of electrical devices, the analysis showed that significant differences can be traced (Table 2).
The study used the t-test to assess differences in the frequency of use of different equipment between residents on-campus and off-campus. The findings indicated that the differences between the on-campus and off-campus students depended mainly on the availability of devices or equipment listed in Table 2 above. Electric hobs, for instance, were less popular in private homes, while dishwashing machines were less frequent on campus.

The results indicated significant differences in the use of certain equipment as follows.

4.2.1. Washing Machines by Place of Residence

Population studied: residents off-campus (n = 473, mean = 2.74) and residents on-campus (n = 433, mean = 2.46).

Statistics: t = 4.537, df = 904, p < 0.001.

Conclusion: There was a significant difference in the frequency of washing machines used, in that off-campus residents declared that they usedthem more frequently.

4.2.2. Electric Hob by Place of Residence

Population studied: residents off-campus (n = 233, mean = 3.82) and on-campus residents (n = 343, mean = 3.32).

Statistics: t = 5.099, df = 574, p < 0.001.

Bottom line: there was a significant difference in the use of electric hobs, in that off-campus residents used them more often.

4.2.3. Hairdryer by Place of Residence

Population studied: residents outside of campus (n = 373, mean = 2.73) and on-campus residents (n = 373, mean = 2.73) and residents (n = 387, mean = 2.96).

Statistics: t = −3.179, df = 758, p = 0.002.

Bottom line: On-campus residents used hair dryers more often than off-campus residents, with a statistically significant difference.

4.2.4. Dishwasher by Place of Residence

Population studied: on-campus residents (n = 124, mean = 3.54) and residents outside the campus (n = 66, mean = 3.11).

Statistics: t = 2.440, df = 145, p = 0.016.

Bottom line: off-campus residents useD dishwashers more frequently than on-campus residents, with a significant difference.

Therefore, we can say that there were significant differences in the use of household equipment between residents on campus and residents off campus. These differences point to inconsistency in consumption behaviors, possibly influenced by factors such as access to facilities, lifestyle, and individual needs. Understanding these differences can be crucial to developing more effective resource management strategies and promoting sustainable practices on campus and in surrounding communities.

We also used the t-test to assess differences in the frequency of use of different devices between men and women. The results indicate significant differences in the use of certain equipment (Table 3).

4.2.5. Hairdryer by Gender

Study population: men (n = 352, mean = 3.24) and women (n = 408, mean = 2.50).

Statistics: t = 10.478, df = 602, p < 0.001.

Bottom line: there was a significant difference in the use of hair dryers between men and women, with women using this equipment more frequently.

4.2.6. Computer/Laptop/Printer

Study population: men (n = 497, mean = 4.65) and women (n = 490, mean = 4.39).

Statistics: t = 4.646, df = 922, p < 0.001.

Bottom line: men used computers, laptops, and printers more frequently than women, with a statistically significant difference.

4.2.7. Hair Straightener/Curling Plate by Gender

Study population: men (n = 38, mean = 3.26) and women (n = 207, mean = 2.76).

Statistics: t = 2.766, df = 243, p = 0.0006.

Bottom line: women used hair straighteners more often than men, with a statistically significant difference.

4.2.8. Electric Kettle by Gender

Study population: men (n = 511, mean = 2.38) and women (n = 512, mean = 2.78).

Statistics: t = −2.935, df = 1017, p = 0.0003.

Bottom line: women used the electric kettle to heat water more often than men, with a statistically significant difference.

4.2.9. Toaster by Gender

Study population: men (n = 511, mean = 2.79) and women (n = 512, mean = 3.12).

Statistics: t = −2.440, df = 1021, p = 0.0015.

Bottom line: women used toasters more often than men, with a statistically significant difference.

These differences reflect variations in gender-related behavior and their needs in the use of technological and household equipment. Promoting the use of energy-efficient equipment adapted to the specific needs and behaviors of each gender can contribute to reducing the carbon footprint. These results differ from the findings of Cotton et al., who compared students from Portugal and the United Kingdom and concluded that there are no significant differences between male and female students regarding their perception of their own energy usage [22].

4.3. Energy-Related Behaviors, Leading to Saving/Wasting Resources

The investigation concerning students’ consciously adopted behaviors towards sparing electrical energy resources led to the results summed up in Figure 3. The findings can serve to develop tailored strategies to nudge sustainable behaviors in campus life. Studies on the campus greening processes highlight such possibilities, although in international perspectives, the cases showed different levels of students’ sensitivity to one or another of the topics in the list [22,29,39].

4.3.1. I Turn off the Light When I Leave the Room

Most of the students at Politehnica University of Timisoara manifested a conscious attitude towards the need to save energy, 68.6% of them indicating that they made a habit of turning off the light when leaving a room. This practice emphasizes a high level of energy efficiency awareness and a commitment to sustainable living principles. Another group, representing 22.3% of the sample, admited that it turned off lights “often”, which showed a general awareness of energy consumption, although there was room for improvement. However, there was also a smaller segment of students who were not as consistent in turning off the lights, which can indicate a lack of habituation or awareness of the impact of this action on resources (5.7%—“sometimes”, 2.5%—“rarely”, 0.9%—“never”). In our analysis, we observed a significant difference between the behavior of campus residents and off-campus students, with a t-score of −4.172 and a p-value of 0.000 (p < 0.01). Analyzing the averages of the answers obtained on a scale from 1 to 5 (where 1 indicates a very low degree of involvement and 5 a very high degree), we find that on-campus students demonstrated a higher level of responsibility in this aspect (the average for residents in dormitories is 4.66, while for off-campus students it was 4.45).

4.3.2. I Open the Blinds and Let as Much Natural Light in as Possible

Efficient management of energy resources is a crucial aspect in the current context of climate change, and the need to promote sustainable practices is emphasized over and over. In this respect, individual behavior regarding the use of artificial light becomes an area of major interest. The results of the study highlighted a positive trend among the studied population to adopt sustainable behaviors in the management of artificial lighting. A significant majority of students (63.2%) preferred to use natural light over artificial light, in that they “always” choose to “open the blinds and let as much natural light in as possible”, which is an excellent practice for saving energy. To these can be added the category of those who said they adopt this behavior “often” (23.4%). A smaller number of students were less inclined to take advantage of natural light, which can indicate the need for greater awareness about the benefits of using natural light (the answer options chosen being “sometimes”—8%, “rarely”—3.9%, “never”—1.4%). In this situation, we found a statistically significant difference by gender, noting that women show a higher level of responsibility towards energy consumption compared to men, especially when it came to opening blinds to let as much natural light into the house as possible. This was underlined by a t-score of −5.053 and a p-value of 0.000 (p < 0.01), with an average of 4.57 among women and 4.29 among men.

4.3.3. I Air Dry Clothes, Not Using the Automatic Dryer

More than 60% of the students (60.1%) respond to the statement that they air-dry their laundry by choosing the option “always”, indicating that they avoid the use of the tumble dryer. This indicates that students at Politehnica University of Timișoara showed a strong trend towards environmentally friendly and energy-efficient drying methods. A smaller percentage of students, 15.4%, adopt this practice “often”. However, there is a significant segment of students who “rarely” (7%) or “never” (4%) resorted to natural laundry drying, which can signal a lack of adequate space or resources. In this context, we identified a significant difference in laundry behavior between students who lived on campus and those who do not. This discrepancy was evident from a t-score of 5.461 and a p-value of 0.000 (p < 0.01). Following the analysis of the average results obtained on a scale from 1 to 5 (where 1 represents a very low level of involvement, and 5 indicates a very high level), we found that students who do not live in UPT dormitories demonstrate greater responsibility regarding the drying process of clothes. The average for dorm residents is 4.01, while for those who live in the city, it is 4.40. As stated above, this result can be due to a lack of space or adequate resources for those who live on campus. We also identified significant gender differences, noting that women show a higher level of responsibility for energy consumption, preferring to air dry laundry more often than using the automatic tumble dryer (t = −2.018, p = 0.044 that is, p <0.01, with an average value of 4.28 for women and 4.13 for men).

4.3.4. I Completely Turn off the Computer; I Do Not Leave It on Standby Mode

Most students (56.6% chose the “always” answer option) had a habit of completely turning off their computers when they were not using them. This is a positive indicator because turning off the computer completely saved energy. Another segment of the 15.7% of respondents indicated that they ‘often’ resort to this practice, which is also a positive sign. However, there is also a considerable number of students who leave computers on standby mode or do not turn them off at all. This group can benefit from more education and nudging to adopt more sustainable behaviors (13.4%—“sometimes”, 9.8%—“rarely”, 4.5%—“never”).

4.3.5. I Replace Classic (Incandescent) Light Bulbs with Ones That Have Low Energy Consumption

The behavior of replacing traditional light bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs was observed among the study population. Specifically, 47.3% of Politehnica University of Timișoara students indicated that they “always” replace classic incandescent bulbs with ones that consume less energy, according to the statement, “I replace classic (incandescent) light bulbs with ones that have low energy consumption”. This reflects the adoption of efficient practices to reduce energy consumption. A significant proportion of students, 21.6%, chose the “often” option for the same statement, which shows that this segment is also involved in energy-saving practices. On the other hand, there are students who either did not adopt this practice at all (7.2%—“never”) or apply it “less often” (7.3%). These percentages indicate that there is room for improvement, and an increase in the adoption of these environmentally beneficial behaviors can be encountered should target methods be in use. In this situation, we found that there was a significant difference in the behavior of replacing incandescent bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs between on-campus students and off-campus ones. This difference was evidenced by a t-score of 2.853 and a p-value of 0.004 (p < 0.01). Analyzing the average results obtained on a scale of 1 to 5 (where 1 indicates a very low level of participation and 5 is a very high level), we found that students who do not live in UPT dormitories show greater responsibility in terms of replacing traditional bulbs with efficient ones. The average for on-campus residents was 3.83, while for off-campus students, it was 4.06.

4.3.6. I Turn off the Light When I Watch TV

We encountered a predominantly positive trend among students to turn off lights while watching television, with 46.4% of respondents stating that they “always” practice this behavior. However, there is still room for improvement and awareness of the benefits of this simple but effective action to reduce energy consumption. We notice that 15.6% of students do not consistently adopt this behavior, opting for the answer variant “sometimes”, while a smaller percentage of students admit that they do not turn off the lights while watching TV (5.8%—“rarely” and 2.3%—“never”). When comparing on-campus students with the off-campus ones, we identified a significant difference between the two groups, as evidenced by a t-score of −2.365 and a p-value of 0.018 (p < 0.01). Analyzing the averages of the answers obtained on a scale from 1 to 5 (where 1 indicates a very low degree of behavior adoption and 5 is a very high degree), we notice that students in dormitories demonstrated a higher level of responsibility in this regard (the average for residents in dormitories was 4.20, while for off-campus students it was 4.05).

4.3.7. I Set the Temperature at 20–22 °C in the Cold Season and If It Seems Cold, I Wear Long Sleeves

More than a third of the students (35.1%) consistently opted for this behavior, showing a commitment to sustainable practices and an understanding of the need to reduce energy consumption. Approximately a quarter of students (24.8%) adopted this practice regularly, preferring to put on warmer clothes rather than to raise the temperature, helping to save energy. However, there is a significant percentage of students who did not follow this practice (15.2%—“never”) or “rarely” do so (10.2%). Analyzing the data of on-campus students compared to off-campus ones, we find a significant difference between these two categories. This difference is underlined by a t-score of 4.716 and a p-value of 0.000 (p < 0.01). Examining the average of the answers obtained on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 represents a very low degree of commitment, and 5 represents a very high degree, we notice that students in residing dormitories show a lower level of responsibility regarding setting the temperature of the heater at 20–22 °C in the cold season and choosing to wear a long-sleeved garment if they feel cool. The average response for on-campus students is 3.30, while for the off-campus ones, the average is 3.76. This situation can be justified by the fact that on-campus students do not have their own heating systems and, consequently, do not have the possibility to adjust the temperature in their living spaces.

4.3.8. In Winter, If It Is Too Hot in the Room, I Adjust the Temperature

Analyzing the responses to the statement, “In winter, if it is too hot in the room, I adjust the temperature”, we notice that a significant percentage of students, 29.2%, say they “always” adjust the temperature when it is too hot in the room, thus demonstrating a conscious and responsible behavior towards energy consumption. This is a positive sign that indicates that these students are aware of their thermal comfort and are willing to take steps to reduce their energy consumption. 19.5% of the students chose the “often” option, suggesting that they are involved enough in managing the temperature in their living space to ensure a comfortable and energy-efficient environment. A proportion of 17.1% of students “sometimes” adjusted the temperature. This group can benefit from more information and encouragement to adopt more sustainable practices consistently. A smaller segment of respondents chooses to adjust the temperature “rarely” (9.7%) or “never” (24.5%). These percentages indicate that there is a significant number of students who are not actively involved in the effective management of energy in their living space, either due to a lack of habit or a lack of awareness of the importance of this behavior.

4.3.9. I Put My Cell Phone on Power Saving Mode, So That It Does Not Need Often Charging

For the statement, “I put my cell phone on power saving mode, so it does not need often charging”, the data collected reflects that a significant number of participants, 27.8%, say they always adopt this practice, indicating an awareness and active application of energy saving measures for their mobile devices. 14.8% of the respondents opt for the “often” variant, suggesting that some users are regularly engaged in energy-saving practices, although there is room for improvement. A close proportion, 17.7%, opted for the “sometimes” answer, indicating an inconsistency in adopting this energy-saving behavior. A smaller but still significant segment of participants reported that they “rarely” (16.4%) or “never” (23.3%) put their phone on power-saving mode. These percentages may suggest that there is a considerable group of users who are not aware of the benefits of this practice or who choose not to adopt it. In this case, we identified a statistically significant difference between the genders, noting that women adopt more responsible energy practices than men, especially when it comes to setting their mobile phone on energy-saving mode to reduce charging frequency. This difference is evident in the t-score of −5.893 and a p-value of 0.000 (p < 0.01), with averages of 3.36 for women and 2.80 for men.

4.3.10. I Choose to Buy Household Appliances That Have Low Energy Consumption

When analyzing data on the purchase of low-energy household appliances, we notice various trends among the respondents. A significant segment of participants, 26.8%, chose “always” for the statement, “I choose to buy household appliances that have low energy consumption”, thus, showing a strong commitment to sustainable practices and reducing energy consumption. Another category, 23.1% of the total sample, responded that they adopt this practice “often”, suggesting that there is significant awareness of the importance of choosing energy-efficient appliances. However, 22.5% of the respondents indicated that they adopted this practice “sometimes”, which can indicate a lack of information or access to low-energy products. Interestingly, the percentages of those who answered “never” and “rarely” are equal, both being 13.8%. This shows that there is still a significant segment of people who are not yet fully engaged in purchasing energy-efficient appliances, indicating a clear opportunity for improvement and awareness raising in this direction.

4.3.11. I Unplug Electrical and Electronic Devices When I Do Not Use Them (They Consume Energy When They Are Off)

More than a quarter of the participants in the survey, 26.3%, chose the “always” option, indicating that they have consistently adopted this energy-efficient behavior. This group of students is aware of phantom energy consumption and takes steps to reduce this type of energy loss. 20.4% of the participants responded that they “often” disconnect their devices, suggesting that this practice is relatively well established, although there is room for improvement. 22.1% chose the “sometimes” option, indicating inconsistent behavior when disconnecting devices. This group can benefit from more information and encouragement to improve their behavior and reduce energy consumption. 16.8% responded “rarely” and 14.4% “never”, indicating that these students are unaware of power consumption when devices are turned off or do not consider it important to adopt such behaviors. When comparing on-campus and off-campus students, we see a significant difference between these two categories, illustrated by a t-score of −2.957 and a p-value of 0.003 (p < 0.01). Evaluating the averages of the answers obtained on a scale from 1 to 5, where 1 signifies a very low level of commitment and 5 is a very high one, we find that on-campus students show a higher degree of responsibility regarding the action of disconnecting electrical and electronic devices when they are not using them. The average response for on-campus students in dormitories was 3.40 and for off-campus students it was 3.15. Furthermore, we found significant gender differences, noting that women demonstrated a higher level of responsibility for energy consumption compared to men by unplugging electrical and electronic appliances when not in use (understanding that even when turned off, they consume energy). This was reflected in a t-score of −5.190 and a p-value of 0.000 (p < 0.01), with an average of 3.50 for women and 3.05 for men.

4.3.12. I Set the Air Conditioner to a Temperature Not Higher than 10 Degrees Lower than the Outside Temperature during the Summer Season

A significant 35% of students chose the “never” option, indicating that this practice is not very widespread among the studied population. This behavior can lead to higher energy consumption, as large temperature differences between indoors and outdoors require more energy to maintain the selected level of temperature comfort. In total, 12.1% of the respondents chose the “rarely” option, suggesting that there is a segment of students who adopt this practice but not regularly. Some 20.7% of the students chose the “sometimes” option, indicating an occasional adoption of this practice. This behavior shows that there is awareness of the importance of setting the air conditioning, but this is not yet a consistent practice. 16.9% of the respondents chose the variant “often”, indicating that a significant number of students adopt this energy-saving practice on a regular basis. 15.4% of the students chose the ‘always’ option, showing a constant commitment to this sustainable practice. When comparing on-campus students with those living off-campus, we see a significant difference between these two groups, evidenced by a t-score of 2.977 and a p-value of 0.003 (p < 0.01). By analyzing the averages of the answers given on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 indicates a very low level of engagement and 5 is a very high level, we find that off-campus students show a greater level of responsibility about setting the air conditioning to a temperature no more than 10 degrees lower than the outside temperature during the summer season. The average response for off-campus students was 2.81, while for the on-campus ones, it was 2.48.

4.3.13. I Check the Number of Life Hours on the Light Bulb Packages before Buying Them

A significant percentage of students, 40.5%, indicated that they never checked the number of hours of operation on the packaging of light bulbs before purchasing them. This suggests that there was a lack of awareness or interest in the life of the bulb, an important aspect of saving energy and choosing sustainable products. Another 18.6% of the respondents chose the “rarely” option, indicating that they only occasionally consider this aspect when purchasing light bulbs. Together with those who answered “never”, these percentages show that there was a significant opportunity for education and awareness raising among students about the importance of checking the life of light bulbs for better resource management and reduction of energy consumption. The “sometimes” option was selected by 16% of students, indicating that there is some awareness of the issue, but this is not consistently applied. The categories “often” and “always”, with percentages of 11.9% and 12.9%, respectively, reflect a group of students who are more attentive and aware of the useful life of light bulbs, therefore adopting a more responsible and sustainable behavior when choosing their products.

4.3.14. I Leave the TV on Even If I Do Not Watch It

A significant percentage of students, nearly 38%, say they ”never” left the TV on when they were not watching it. This indicated a high level of awareness of the importance of energy saving and environmentally responsible behavior. More than a quarter of students (26.1%) indicated that they only leave the television on in their absence “rarely”. Although this behavior is uncommon, there is still room for improvement and awareness of the impact of this habit on energy expenditure. More than 21% of the respondents admit that they “sometimes” leave the television on when they are not watching it. This behavior indicates that there are opportunities for education and awareness to encourage more energy-efficient practices. A lower percentage of study subjects, almost 11%, “often” left the TV on in their absence, and 4% indicated that they “always” left the TV on even when they were not watching it. This behavior was the least energy efficient and shows a lack of awareness of the impact this habit can have on energy resources.

The findings are useful primarily to the university leaders and administrative staff, to improve energy management in the residential buildings, either as stand-alone initiatives or in a future effort to launch greening campus processes and/or sustainability-led initiatives [29,56]. However, influencing student behaviors towards more sustainable practices has the potential to positively influence not only the university’s finances and use of resources but also on society as a whole, which encourages environmental citizenship and sustainable lifestyles [12,24,25,41].

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