Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy New Year!

As we say goodbye to 2011 and welcome 2012, how about making a resolution to save some energy this year? It's easy if you try; just flip a switch, adjust the thermostat by a few degrees, change some light bulbs, make a conscious effort to be more efficient with your energy use this year. Thanks, everyone, for doing your part. It all adds up both at home and in the schools. Together we are making a huge difference! Thank YOU!!!

Wishing you a groovy and efficient New Year!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Today's Energy Thought

Happy Boxing Day!

Okay so that is more of a salutation. Here is your energy thought for today, a slogan I have lived by for many years:

Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without!

And have a Happy Boxing Day!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Consider the Unusual

Continuing the Green Holiday theme of the week, here is another link with unique green gifts and eco-friendly gift ideas. Click here to check it out.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Still Dreaming of a Green Christmas

Want to give a green gift this year? And here green is not referring to, as Lucy from the Peanuts says, cold hard cash, but green in the environmentally friendly sense. Check out this cool link: click here for the Holiday Gift Guide from Green America. There are several fun categories with all sorts of ideas for unique, green gifts.

Wishing you green and groovy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dreaming of a Green Christmas

Recycle your live Christmas tree!
Ninety-eight percent of Christmas trees were grown on farms specifically for use as a holiday decoration. These trees were not harvested from forests so at least it's not as if you're cutting down an ancient tree. Each year, 10 million Christmas trees end up in the landfill. While your tree can't be placed in your regular recycling bin, you CAN recycle it: many cities offer programs to turn your tree into mulch or into wood chips. Call (800) CLEANUP or visit to find the tree-recycling program near you.

Since it looks like we may have a brown December 25th this year instead of a white one, let's at least make it a Green Christmas!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Today's Energy Thought

According to the American Solar Energy Society, enough sunlight falls on the earth's surface each minute to meet the world energy demand for how long?
A)  24 hours

B)  8 weeks

C)  6 months

D)  an entire year

Scroll down to check your answer...

The correct answer is D) an entire year! Wow! Who knew?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Today's Energy Thought

Efficient Holiday Cooking & Baking

It's easy to save energy in the kitchen this time of year, just follow these few simple tips from the California Energy Commission.

  • Use the smallest appliance for the job. Microwave ovens use less than half the energy required by a conventional oven.
  • Use the smallest pan and burner needed for the job. Match the size of the pan to the heating element. More heat will get to the pan and less will be lost to the surrounding air. Believe it or not, a six-inch pan on an eight-inch burner will waste more than 40 percent of the energy!
  • Cook with lids on your pans. Cooking pasta without a lid on the pot can use three times as much energy.
  • With glass or ceramic pans, you can turn your oven temperature down 25 degrees, and foods will cook just as quickly.
  • Don't open the oven door to take a peek at what's cooking inside. Instead, turn on the oven light and check the cooking status through the oven window. Opening the oven door lowers the temperature inside by as much as 25 degrees - which increases cooking time and wastes energy.
  • As long as your oven is on, cook several items at the same time. Just make sure you leave enough room for the heat to circulate around each casserole and pie plate.
  • Self-cleaning ovens use less energy for normal cooking because of the higher insulation levels built into them. However, if you use the self-cleaning feature more than once a month, you'll end up using more energy than you will save. Consider using the self-cleaning feature immediately after using your oven, to take advantage of the residual heat.
 Happy Holiday Cooking, Baking and Eating!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Green Cars

If you "google" green cars you come up with quite a variety of options, above are just a few fun images. But how about "green" meaning environmentally friendly automobiles? As fuel prices continue to rise, more and more "green" cars are coming out on the market these days but how do they stack up?

Here is a top 10 list of the best green cars for 2011 according to
Kelley Blue Book:

1.   2011 Nissan Leaf
2.   2011 Chevy Volt
3.   2011 Toyota Prius
4.   2011 Lexus CT 200h
5.   2011 Honda Insight
6.   2011 Ford Fusion Hybrid
7.   2011 Volkswagen Golf TDI
8.   2011 Hyundai Elantra
9.   2012 Fiat 500
10. 2012 Ford Focus

For more information on each model including MPG, click here to go to the detailed list on the Kelley Blue Book website.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Energy Lobbyists

In science classes at PLHS the 9th graders are currently studying energy. The students were given an assignment to present an energy source to legislators and potential investors. Teachers and staff were invited into the classroom and given $500,000 in play money to support one or more of the energy lobbyist groups. The students were evaluated on their knowledge, presentation, visual aids and professionalism. Below are some of the students with their energy source displays.

A few groups used props and visual aids. Below you can see wind power in action. Some groups even tried sweet persuasion tactics by offering cookies while making the case for their energy source.

This group appropriately provided windmill cookies.

Ms. Korby checks out the model of a dam.

Lobbying for Natural Gas to Mr. Steinberg.

Mr. Bennett learns about Biomass as an energy source.

Friday, December 2, 2011

This just in...

3rd quarter results are in and our school district had another awesome three months of savings/cost avoidance! For July, August and September of 2011 we have saved (drum roll please) a total of $71,293.00! AND our overall energy use was reduced by a whopping 22%, well beyond our goal of 10%! These great results are made possible by the combined efforts of staff and students throughout the district. A special shout out to all of the head building operators who are running their facilities as efficiently as possible. Together we can and have made a HUGE difference. Let's continue keeping those dollars that would have been spent on energy right here in the classrooms where it is most needed! Have you flipped off a light switch or powered down a computer monitor lately?
Keep up the good work everyone and have a groovy and efficient weekend.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Recycle your Holidays

The District Service Center at 4540 Tower St. SE in Prior Lake is an official drop-off location for your old and broken holiday light strands. You can drop off lights in the lobby 8:00am - 4:00pm weekdays or send from any school in the district via the in-district mail to the DSC.

The Recycling Association of Minnesota (RAM), in partnership with the Clean Energy Resource Teams, started this first-of-its-kind effort in the country back in 2009. This program employs over 200 individuals with developmental disabilities at vocational centers throughout the state of Minnesota. Every bulb of the light strand is dismantled by vocational center clients and then properly recycled in Minnesota. Every part of the strand is recycled, even the little lights are recycled by another project partner, Green Lights Recycling.
Over the past two years, Recycle Your Holidays™ has saved 2.7 million kWh with 280,000 lbs of lights recycled because recycling is more efficient than creating new metal from scratch. This amounts to a bit over $200,000 in avoided energy costs!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Holiday Light Calculator

If you are wondering how the more energy efficient LED light strands compare to the traditional higher wattage bulb strands, click here to go to a really cool calculator for various types of holiday lighting. Just select how many strands of the type of bulb, select how many hours they will be illuminated and it will tell you the cost per day and for a month.

This calculator is based on an average electric rate of 10 cents per kilowatt-hour so actual costs for you may vary based upon your local electrical provider's rates. However it does give you a rough idea of the differences between 100 count LED strands, 100 count mini strands and the larger 25 bulb strands. It is a helpful tool if you want to start making the change over to more energy efficient holiday lights and would like to figure out your savings and pay back time frame. Also, you can compare the cost of LEDs lit for a couple of hours versus leaving them lit all night so check it out and have fun calculating!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sending a Message

When you hear "green stamps" an image from days gone by may come to mind when these were collected, moistened and saved up in little booklets for redemption. Today the U.S. Postal Service is offering a different kind of green stamp with the "Go Green" forever stamps now available at your local post office. When addressing your holiday cards this December, why not consider using these on the outgoing envelopes to send out a green message along with your season's greetings?

Green Lesson Plans

Renewable energy =  infinite power!

Click here for the link to a website with some great lesson plans about renewable resources.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Wishing everyone in Savage,
Prior Lake and beyond ~
a Groovy and efficient Thanksgiving!

Click here for some energy saving tips for Thanksgiving from Green Living Ideas.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Field Trip

Last week a group of staff and students toured the new Organic Recycling facility owned and operated by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC). The 25 acre site just became operational this fall and our school district waste hauler, Dick's Sanitation, has partnered with the SMSC so all of our organic waste materials are now brought there rather than being deposited into a landfill.

Organic recyclable materials include brush, wood, sawdust, grass, leaves, food waste, produce, paper waste (such as tissues and paper towels) essentially anything that has been been alive at some point so glass, metals, plastics, rocks and minerals are not accepted. The process for turning the organic waste into compost takes approximately 12 weeks so the students were able to see the end result of their organic waste from the first week of week of school back in September.

The name says it all.

Temperatures in compost reach over 130 degrees.

So why compost? Well, there are several great environmental benefits:
  • Less greenhouse gas emissions
  • Reduction of waste volume by at least half
  • Pathogens and weed seeds are eliminated from waste by the prolonged high temperatures
  • Amends tired and eroded soil improving soil structure, increasing soil's water-holding capacity
  • Conditions the soil reducing the need for synthetic fertilizers

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Happy America Recycles Day!

Since 1997 our country has celebrated America Recycles Day and that day is TODAY!  This is the only day dedicated to promoting recycling in the United States. Click here to go to a link for information on this day of recognition for recycling. Click here to go to Earth 911 and more information specifically about today. Lastly, click here to go to the Presidential Proclamation for America Recycles Day 2011.
Have YOU recycled something today?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Seal the leaks!

If you have a leaky window, you might as well leave it open three inches during the cold weather months. A crack as small as 1/16th of an inch around a window frame can let in as much cold air as leaving the window open three inches!

Here are a couple of ways to detect air leaks:
  • At night, shine a flashlight over the suspected gaps while someone else observes from outside. It also needs to be dark inside and large cracks will then show up as beams of light. This method is not the best option for finding small cracks.
  • Shut a door or window on a piece of paper. If you can pull the paper out without tearing it, you are losing energy.
Besides windows and doors, here are a few other places to check for air leaks:
  • Mail chutes
  • Electrical and gas service entrances
  • Cable or satellite TV and phone lines
  • Dryer vents
  • Air conditioners
  • Exhaust fans

    Thursday, November 10, 2011

    Today's Energy Thought

    Which country has the highest rate of carbon emissions in the world with close to 6 billion tons of carbon dioxide gas released every year?

    A)  China

    B)  Russia

    C)  Canada

    D)  United States

    Scroll down to check your answer...

    According to National Geographic, with more than 80 tons annually per household, the United States releases the most CO2 emissions into the atmosphere of any other country in the world. To put it into perspective, one pound of CO2 would fill a balloon about 2 1/2 feet wide so in one year, an average American family of 4 would fill 160,000 of these balloons, enough to fill a building 27 stories tall and 100 feet square.