Friday, October 29, 2010

Thank you, JP and TOMS!

Earlier this week I was at Twin Oaks middle school and met with Mrs. Warner and head building operator Bob about implementing SEE program activities in their building. Soon there will be a SEE Squad in place and I am looking forward to sharing the Energy game show with TOMS' students.

This morning I was at Jeffers Pond Elementary and met with Mrs. Solberg, head building operator, Dave and Ms. Dicke, a 4th grade classroom teacher. A good discussion ensued about how well their staff is doing when it comes to energy conservation.  We also recognized the many learning opportunities provided through the SEE program and agreed there is always room for improvement.

It's awesome to get two more of our schools on board with the SEE program! Heading to Hidden Oaks and the high school next week.

Have a fun, safe, and efficient Halloween!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

High School Eco Team

Did you know PLHS has an Eco Team?
A group of 40+ students meet weekly before school with two science teachers. I am excited to meet with this group next week to introduce the SEE program to them and plan some fun activites at the high school level.

To switch off or to leave on? That is the question...

In light (pun intended) of the Ooooops! and Wow! stickers appearing around the district from our active SEE Squads, this question bares repeating from an earlier post...
Does turning fluorescent lights off use more energy than leaving them on?

A common misconception is that there is a boost of energy required to power up a bulb so you should leave lights on when leaving an area for a short amount of time.
It turns out, however, the power surge is so brief that its energy draw doesn't amount to much; the equivalent of a few seconds or so of normal operation, according to U.S. Department of Energy estimates. In other words, strictly from an energy saving standpoint, it's almost always beneficial to shut off fluorescents when leaving a room—the start-up energy is offset by the power saved in even the briefest outages.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Today's Energy Thought

If your water heater was manufactured before 2004, consider wrapping it with an insulating blanket designed specifically for this purpose. Newer water heaters don't need added insulation because the federal requirement for tank insulation was updated and increased in 2004. Most water heaters manufactured before then have less insulation which results in standby heat loss and wasted energy.

Water heating can account for as much as 17% of an average home's annual energy use so installing an insulating blanket can pay off quickly. Some manufacturers have specific guidelines for installing an insulating blanket, so be sure to check the owners manual. Also please note on gas units, areas not to cover include warning labels, the top of the unit, the pressure relief valve, the control panel, and any bottom air inlets.

And the last thought today on water heaters... it is a good idea to drain off a bucket of hot water from your water heater annually to remove sediment that will interfere with the heater's long-term use and efficiency. Speaking from recent experience at home, this was something we did not know should be done as preventative maintenance so we had to replace our water heater after we found years of sediment effecting our hot water pressure and ultimately damaging the unit.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Winter Winds are Coming

Did you know a one-eighth inch gap around an exterior door is equivalent to a six inch square hole in the side of your house and causes a lot of energy loss?  When put in those terms I realized I would not leave a gaping hole in the side of my house all winter so I'd better check for air leaks. There are two ways to check your exterior doors:
Have someone stand on the other side of the door and shine a flashlight around the door's perimeter. If you can see light through the cracks, your door needs sealing.
Hold a piece of paper between the door and the frame and shut the door. If you can pull the paper out without tearing it, you should weather strip around the door.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Today's Energy Thought

Just when I think I have come across every possible energy saving tip out there, I stumble upon something that makes me say, "gee, why didn't I think of this before?" So if your freezer at home is not perfectly organized and neatly arranged but more like the freezer below,
then this tip is for you...
Food blocking the fan inside the freezer means the unit has to work harder to cool. Simply moving items away from the fan will save energy. To piggyback on this tip, cleaning the grate at the bottom of the refrigerator will help save energy as well so either pull it off and wash it or give it a good swipe with a vacuum attachment. Happy Fall Cleaning!

Wow Westwood!

Westwood is the latest elementary building to start a SEE Squad.  According to Principal Winfield and head building operator Barry, WW already does a pretty good job of watching their energy use so I am expecting lots of Wow! notes in their building. As with anything, there is usually room for improvement so they may see a few Oops! reminder notes as well.  Stay tuned for more info about who will be the SEE Squad at WW and some pictures and video clips of the Energy Monitors in action.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Three and counting

Redtail Ridge is the next elementary to get their SEE Squad up and running. Thanks to Ms. Aker, the building will soon be monitored by a group of energy conscious 5th graders. Stay tuned for pictures, video clips and some Oops! and Wow! totals as the SEE Squad Energy Patrol gets busy at Redtail Ridge.

With RR, there are now three buildings with SEE Squads in place.  Three more elementary buildings, two middle schools, the high school, the Early Childhood center and the District Office remain. Heads up to those buildings, the SEE Squads are coming!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Today's Energy Thought

Did you know fifteen minutes of presoaking and five minutes of agitation gets clothes cleaner than fifteen minutes of agitation? A simple and yet very effective tip for saving energy, saving money and getting your dirtiest clothes cleaner.

Glendale to launch SEE Squad

Glendale Elementary in Savage will begin the SEE Squad activity following fall conferences and MEA break. According to head custodian Jim, their students and staff are already doing a pretty good job of using energy sources wisely.

Putting an Energy Patrol in place will just help make sure their efficient habits and practices continue throughout the school year. I am guessing they will SEE more WOW! than OOPS! notes around their building. Check back for pictures and video clips of the GD SEE Squad in action!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Energy Star Kids

Hey kids, be an ENERGY STAR!
Please check out this awesome website, it is filled with cool activities and fun facts. It also has an interactive tool that shows a typical kid's room and offers lots of energy tips. Check it out by clicking on the link below:

Ceiling Fans

It's time to adjust the direction of your ceiling fans as we head into the heating season. During the cold weather months the blades should be rotating in a clockwise direction to push warm air down into the room. If your fan is spinning counterclockwise, look for an adjustment switch located on the head at the center of the fan and slide it in the opposite direction, when the fan is turned off, of course.

This is also a good time to replace any incandescent bulbs with CFLs in ceiling fans. I was just in an Ace Hardware over the weekend and they are offering instant rebates this week on a variety of CLFs including dimmable, instant-on and globes so some bulbs were as little as 99 cents after rebate. Just passing on a good deal for saving money to save energy to save even more money!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Thank You Grainwood!

Grainwood Elementary is the first school in the district to launch a SEE Squad. Pictures and video clips will be coming soon of the 4th and 5th grade Energy Monitors in action. Check back again soon for an update.

Thanks, Grainwood, for doing your part to make a difference, we will definitely SEE and SAVE!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Today's Energy Thought

Hope you are enjoying the gorgeous fall weather this week but if there is one thing we know about the changing seasons here in Minnesota, we know it is not going to last and winter is coming.  Which brings me to the point of today's post...

More than 50 percent of the energy used in a typical American home is for space heating and cooling. Much of that conditioned air escapes through poorly sealed, underinsulated attics. Only 20% of homes built before 1980 are well insulated.

So today's energy thought is make sure you are ready for the coming cold weather months by keeping your home properly insulated and you will SEE energy savings this winter.