Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Energy News

If you missed the President's State of the Union address last night, click here for a link to a video clip of him speaking about clean energy.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Today's Energy Thought

Geothermal energy is used to heat 85% of the homes in which country?

A) Japan                          B) Iceland

C) Turkey                        D) Denmark

Scroll down to check your answer...

The correct answer is Iceland.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Last Call for Lights

We are still collecting holiday light strands at the District Office through the end of January. Either drop off your unwanted light strands at the DSC between 8am and 4pm Monday - Friday or just send over from your building via the in-district mail on the mail cart. Also being collected are electrical cords and telephone cords. Thanks to RAM, the Recycling Association of Minnesota for this great program. Stay tuned for more recycling opportunities in the district coming soon!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Today's Energy Thought

With such a mild winter thus far, there hasn't been a huge call for insulating drafty thresholds but the latest arctic blast to hit Minnesota has prompted a need for the return of draft blockers. These are available for purchase in stores and online or if you are feeling crafty, you can make your own. And these are not just for doorways, the insulating tubes can be placed on drafty window sills as well. Below are just a few examples of how to keep the warm air inside and the cold air outside during the winter heating months. Also, keep in mind, a one-eighth inch gap around an exterior door is equivalent to a six inch square hole in the side of your house so block those drafts!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Extra Credit

Following the energy game show and a lively discussion, a middle school student shared an extra credit project with the class. He had constructed a model depicting how Geo-thermal energy is harvested from the earth. Using several layers of cake, frosting and sprinkles, the project represented various layers of the earth. Inserted from the surface downward are two straws to show how pipes go down into the earth to extract the Geo-thermal heat. When the student finished his presentation, he sliced up the cake and shared it with his classmates. Hopefully the 8th graders will remember what the model represented and not just the sweet afternoon treat in science class.

Energetic Gamers

The 8th grade science classes are currently studying a unit on energy. Thank you to Ms. Clemmerson at Twin Oaks Middle School for having the district EEC come in to play the Who Wants to be an Energy Zillionaire game show with her students. It was a fun and educational day with these terrific teens. Below are just two groups of the many 8th graders who teamed up to play the game show. These students were definitely enjoying some friendly competition while expanding their knowledge about energy.

Team Fantastic!

Team Awesome!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Know Your Plastics

Did you know the triangle symbol on the bottom of plastic containers does not necessarily mean it is recyclable? The number inside the chasing arrow symbol is the resin identification code. These numbers indicate the type of resin used in the making of the container. The numbers 1-7 are assigned to various plastics for identification purposes during the recycling sorting process. Below are the numbers, what each means and if it is recyclable.

#1: Polyethylene terephtalate, also known as PETE or PET. This plastic is used to make water bottles and IS recyclable.

#2: High-density polyethylene, or HDPE. This plastic is used to make milk jugs and detergent bottles and IS recyclable.

#3: Polyvinyl chloride, aka PVC. This is usually what plastic food packaging is made of and it is NOT recyclable.

#4: Low-density polyethylene, or LDPE. This is what plastic shopping bags are made of. It requires a special recycling process and should not be intermingled with other recyclables.

#5: Polypropylene. This plastic is used to make yogurt cups and other opaque containers. It IS recyclable.


#6: Polystyrene, or Styrofoam. These items are NOT recyclable and they are NOT biodegradable.

#7: The mixed bag category. These plastics are used to make everything from iPods to food storage containers. These are usually NOT recyclable.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Today's Energy Thought

Image courtesy of
What do we know about the white stuff that falls from the sky, besides the fact that Minnesota has seen very little of it this winter? From an article posted by the U.S. Department of Energy: Snowflakes are hexagons. The formation of snowflakes and their unique shapes are the result of two variables: temperature and moisture. And now there is something pretty cool (pun intended) and exciting about these delicate and beautiful creations of nature, they may have been an inspiration leading to the discovery of a new alternative source of energy.

Intrigued? Click here to read the entire article entitled Snowflake Science.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Today's Energy Thought

How much money would be saved if the energy efficiency of commercial and industrial buildings in our country improved by just 10 percent?

A)  $2 million

B)  $20 million

C)  $2 billion

D)  $20 billion

Scroll down to check your answer...

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the correct answer is $20 billion! Wow! So much can be saved by just a 10% decrease.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Much more than just a switch

A common misconception about energy efficiency is that it is only about "turning off the lights." In response to the question, "What do you do for the school district?" I reply I am the Energy Efficiency Coordinator. This is typically followed by "Oh, you turn off the lights." I even overhear my boys telling their friends that I turn off the lights in the schools. Yes, energy conservation is about turning off lights but it is about so much more.

In the schools we have de-lamped some hallways and common areas from three fluorescent tubes down to one or two depending upon the natural daylight available. We have had the vending companies we contract with de-lamp their beverage and snack machines. We run an auto shut down program for all the computers district wide to turn off any PCs left on at 6:00 PM and again at 10:00 PM. Also, all of the buildings in the district have a computerized Energy Management System (EMS) to control both heating and cooling temperatures and the timing of when to be at either an occupied or unoccupied set point. The head custodians are very good at monitoring their building use and setting their EMS accordingly.

These are just a few examples of the many and varied efforts by our district to be more efficient with our energy use. The students and staff in our schools are working hard toward being better stewards of our energy resources which in turn helps the district save money but equally as important, being more energy conscious makes them good stewards of our planet and all its natural resources.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Did you know?

About 19% of Denmark's electricity generation came from wind in 2009. The next highest shares of wind generation are found in Portugal (16%), Spain (13%), Ireland (11%), and Germany (7%). While the United States generates more wind-powered electricity than any other country, wind provides only about 1% of our nation's electricity.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Easy Bake Oven pardoned?

The 100 watt incandescent light bulb has received a last minute reprieve from Congress. The law passed in 2007 set to take effect this week was overturned by Congress in late December.  This law marked the beginning of the end for traditional light bulbs starting with the 100 watt incandescent bulb in 2012.
For an interesting view on this recent turn of events, click here for an article from the New York Times. For another take on the ban repeal, click here for a blog post from ABC News. Stay tuned for more information in the months to come on what overturning this law means for the manufacturers and the consumers as well.

If you regularly follow this blog then you understand the above title and also this closing thought...
Long live the Easy Bake Oven!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Today's Energy Thought

Whether you have a traditional, tropical or funky ceiling fan overhead, it still needs to be spinning in a clockwise direction during the winter heating months. When on the lowest setting and spinning clockwise, the blades push warm air down from the ceiling. So look up and check which way the blades are spinning above you to bring some of that warm air back down where it belongs.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

This year I will...

Many New Year's resolutions are about being good to yourself or making changes in your life. This year why not resolve to be good to the environment? Ronald Reagan once said, "Every day begins with possibilities. It's up to us to fill it with things that move us toward progress and peace." As 2012 unfolds before us ripe with new and fresh possibilities, consider adopting an attitude of "every little bit helps." Even though a single green effort will not solve the world's environmental problems overnight, there is absolutely no harm in trying to make a small impact by embracing greener habits. Resolve to be more energy efficient this year.