Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Winter Break is almost here!

Warm Seasons Greetings
from the Energy Efficiency Coordinator!

Just a friendly reminder whether you are leaving your classroom for break or traveling away from home over the Holidays, be sure to shut down everything before you leave including monitors, speakers, printers, copiers, projectors, etc. Any electronics drawing vampire energy should be turned off or unplugged. Every effort no matter how small truly does make a difference. Thank you for doing your part, everyone!

Wishing you a Groovy Holiday Season &
much Energy Efficiency in the New Year!

Look Up

The attic is one of the places where you will often find the biggest air leaks which in turn can increase your energy bills and make it uncomfortably hot in the summer and extremely cold in the winter.
It is also an area that is usually accessible making it easier to seal and insulate.
So to improve the comfort level of your home during the heating and cooling months and to be much more energy efficient, look up!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Fancy Nancy and Curious George

Fancy Nancy Every Day is Earth Day is a fun book about being eco-conscious in a variety of areas. I would love to visit your kindergarten, first or second grade classroom to read this book to your students and then follow with a short discussion about energy efficiency at their level.

Another option is Curious George Plants a Tree. Please consider having the district's EEC as a guest reader in your classroom. To schedule a visit either email or call ext.0051.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Did you know?

Did you know that leaving your computer on draws an average of 50-300 watts, about as much as a common refrigerator? To save energy, a general rule of thumb for shutting down as opposed to leaving your computer up and running is about 20 - 30 minutes. If you are going to be away from your computer for longer than a half hour, then consider shutting down and restarting upon your return.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Forgotten Door

The title of today's post sounds a little like a mystery novel. There is a door that often gets overlooked when weather-proofing because the doors leading directly outside are what first come to mind when checking for gaps and air leaks.

The forgotten door is the one between the house and the garage.  This is especially important when the garage is not insulated. Besides replacing the weather stripping around the door frame, installing a door sweep helps seal the gap between the bottom of the door and the threshold to prevent cold air from entering and warm air from escaping, or vice versa in the summer months.

So there is no mystery here, just remember when checking for unwanted airflow between your house and outside, don't forget the door to the garage.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Video Game Vampires

No, this is not about the release of Wii Vampire Wars or any other such video game...
In a recent news article about energy and electronics, it stated some gaming consoles can use almost as much energy as a TV does to run so the consoles should not be left turned on when not being used. Meaning if the TV is off but the game console is still running or the unit is left sitting on the menu page for hours when not being used, energy is still being drawn to the game console.
So consider activating a sleep mode before you walk away and leave the unit on or have it go into auto-shutdown after a set amount of time.

Igniting Creative Energy

Igniting Creative Energy (ICE) is a national student challenge to motivate learning, ignite the imagination, and fuel the creative potential in youth.

The ICE Challenge is an incentive based educational opportunity for K - 12 students throughout the U.S. and much of Canada. Students are asked to use their creative energy to develop entries in the categories of Visual Arts and Music, Science and Technology, and Language Arts. Entries are to relate to the theme "Igniting Creative Energy" and demonstrate character building as it applies to wise energy choices and environmental stewardship. The entries are also to demonstrate an understanding of what an individual, family or group can do to make a difference in their home or community.

So why participate? Besides the fact that is a creative and fun educational opportunity, the GRAND PRIZE is a trip for two to Washington D.C. Three students and one teacher will win a trip for two to our nation's capital.

But wait, there's more...
For more information and all the details for students and teachers including important guidelines and deadlines, click here: ICE Challenge

Check it out!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Today's Energy Thought

If you are trying to decide about switching to LED (light emitting diode) lights for decorating at this time of year, here are a few points to keep in mind.

  • New LED lights can last up to 20 years, do not contain any mercury and consume very low amounts of energy.
  • Older non-LED lights used 6 hours per day can cost about $30 per month in electricity while LED lights will cost about 50 cents for the same amount of time, quite a savings comparatively.
  • Additionally, LED lights do not generate heat and remain cool to the touch making them much safer than the traditional strands of lights that can get hot and become a fire hazard.
For the most efficient decorative lighting, have you seen the solar powered holiday lights now available? These turn on automatically at sunset, have all the adjustable options like twinkling and flashing, and best of all, use no electricity.

So here's to a merry, bright and efficient Holiday Season!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Game show held over

The year two game show "Who wants to be an Energy Zillionaire?" is still available up until winter break. It takes about 20 minutes or so to play so if you want a quick, fun and educational activity, please contact me via email or at ext 0051. I facilitate (aka play game show host) so there is no prep on the teacher's part other than to schedule my visit. Look at the posts from last week to see the fun pictures from Jeffers Pond and Glendale. It is age appropriate for grades four and older.

So... Who wants to be an Energy Zillionaire???

Think outside the roll

Are you one who dives into a present ripping the wrapping to shreds? Or do you gingerly peel off the cellophane tape trying to preserve as much of the wrapping as possible? According to the Clean Air Council, an additional 5 million tons of waste is generated in the U.S. during the time between Thanksgiving and the end of December. 4 million tons of that is wrapping paper and shopping bags. That's about 800 million pounds of waste generated during only one month of the year. Besides reusing gift bags and ribbons, here are some other ideas to help you be eco-conscious and creative with your gift giving.
  • Make part of your gift the wrapping by using a tea towel to wrap a mug or other kitchen items.
  • Wrap up gifts for gals with a festive scarf.
  • Use a colorful bandanna or a fun stocking hat for a hard to wrap item or gift cards.
  • Re-usable totes are everywhere so grab one at the checkout and make it the gift bag.
  • Use newspaper, catalog or magazine pages or take-out menus as wrapping.
Just look around your office or home and you'll be surprised what you can find to re-use or re-purpose to reduce some of that 800 million tons of waste this month. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

the Dub R-bows vs. the G-M-N-T

The Energy game show went on the road again and today it was played by the HS Eco-team at their weekly meeting.  It was The "Double Rainbows" verses the "Green-age Mutant Ninja Turtles." The students were almost flawless with their answers only being tripped up by a microwave oven question.
So I shall pose it here for you to ponder:

How much energy does a microwave use compared to a conventional oven?

A) They use the same amount of energy.
B) 15% less energy.
C) 50% less energy.
D) A microwave actually uses more energy.

Scroll down for the answer...

C) Microwaves use 50% less energy compared to a conventional oven.

Just a little food for thought.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

What are you, a penguin?

Have you ever heard that question as you stand in front of an open refrigerator? The quicker you are in and out of a refrigerator or freezer, the better it is for keeping the temperatures inside from rising. When warm air gets into the cold or frozen compartment, it causes the refrigerator to work harder to maintain optimal temperatures.
So if you have a penguin at home, gently remind them to make up their mind before they open the refrigerator or freezer and then once they do open it, ask them to not dawdle with the door open. The same can be said for leaving a door ajar while you bring in groceries or run out to the mailbox. Keep the cold air out and don't let the warm air escape by keeping doors closed between trips into the house or while you run outside for "just a sec."

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Did you know?

Did you know that our schools are billed twice for our electricity use? Well, technically there are two components to our school’s electricity bill - the energy charge and the demand charge. The bills we see at our homes have the cost per kilowatt hour of electricity used, but schools and other commercial buildings are also charged for their peak demand load.

Here is how electric energy is billed for a school:
1. Energy Charge (use over time): Electricity is typically metered at each school facility to determine the amount of kilowatt hours used. This meter is read each month and the difference in the readings accounts for the total consumption; school are billed accordingly.
2. Demand Charge (use at one point in time): Utility companies look at the highest peak of electric use during the month. For example, during the month of December, the total peak demand will be measured every fifteen minutes and charted on a graph. The highest electric load during the month is what the utility will bill for demand. So in other words, if one day out of the month you have everything powered to full blast, that’s the day you’ll be charged for all month.
Why does a utility company have this charge?
Electricity-consuming equipment in a school determines the school’s demand for electricity. As electric use fluctuates during the day and during various seasons, it creates unknown electric load demands for a utility company. In order to accommodate for this, the utility company needs to know the maximum amount of electricity required to provide to their customers.
How can schools help reduce this electricity charge?
Focus on reducing energy use from 11am – 4pm, since that is when occupancy and energy use are highest. In fact, lunch hour is typically the most energy-intense time of the day in a school. Building engineers are trained on how to schedule their large equipment to lower their peak demand load. It is important to understand this concept in case you do play a role in a strategy to reduce these demands costs.

Game Show in Action

Sara, the site leader at Jeffers Pond's Kids Company, provided these action shots of the game show in progress. As you can see, the students were very attentive and really concentrating on the questions. The smart board made it easy to facilitate the interactive video game and the wireless controllers were great for buzzing in to answer. Again, a fun and educational time was had by all.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Kids Co at GD

After JP, I ventured back out in the snow and headed over to Glendale to meet with their Kids Company students. Here the "Lakers" team took on the "Girl Power" team in a spirited and exciting game of "Who Wants to be an Energy Zillionaire?" Thank you, GD Kids Co, for the opportunity to spend some time with your awesome students. It was a lot of fun to play the energy game show with this sharp group of eco-conscious kids.

Kids Co at JP

This past Friday in the midst of a snow storm, I visited Jeffers Pond Kids Company to play the year two game show "Who Wants to be an Energy Zillionaire?" It was the "Pink Zebras" team verses the "Beastly Boys" team.
These 3rd - 5th graders had lots of fun playing the game and learning more about saving energy at both school and at home. Thanks for a fun and educational afternoon, JP Kids Company!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

the Stall Street Journal

The first edition is posted in most of the staff restrooms throughout the district. It will be up at the middle schools tomorrow after a second printing. Click below to read this fun and informative publication.

A sister publication, the Laker Energy Times, has been placed in some of the staff break rooms as well. Same content, different title.

Two Tips for Today

An easy way to save energy is to turn down the brightness of your computer screen. It takes more energy to run a brighter display. Many computers have shortcut keys or brightness settings. If you use a battery powered lap top you probably turn down the brightness to perserve battery so if you are on a desk top, turn down the brightness to use less energy.

Second, unplug printers, scanners and other hardware when you are not using it. Unless you print regularly, leaving your computer's printer or scanner plugged in is unnecessary. Disconnecting it from the power outlet saves energy. Or if it is easier, plug the printer into a power strip and switch it off unless you are printing.

Just two simple tips for today.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Today's Energy Thought

17 million barrels of oil are used each year just to produce all the disposable plastic water bottles used in the U.S. Yikes! That's a lot of oil! What's more, only about 12% of disposable water bottles are actually recycled. That means 88% of these bottles end up in a landfill or becoming litter.
Utilizing a refillable stainless-steel, glass or ceramic container, helps you save money, energy and the environment by taking water with you and you can fill up just about every place you go. And by the way, there is no evidence to support the idea that drinking bottled water is any safer than filtered tap water. In fact, it's been proven that some bottled water IS tap water.

Quarterly Results

Congratulations to
Edgewood School
Five Hawks Elementary
Jeffers Pond Elementary
Hidden Oaks Middle School
Twin Oaks Middle School
Prior Lake High School
and the District Service Center!
These buildings met or exceeded their 10% energy reduction goal for the 2nd quarter, April - June, 2010. I was able to present the head buliding operators with their awards this morning. We are very close to reporting our 3rd quarter results for July - September so stay tuned, Energy Fans, for more good news coming soon. Thanks to the above buildings for doing your part to save energy and $$$!