Schools spend more money on energy than on textbooks and computers combined. Implementing effective conservation programs can lead to reductions of as much as 25 percent in utility bills. In addition to saving your school money, you'll also be providing a unique opportunity to create a new generation of energy-smart citizens.
You can empower kids by giving them responsibility. Rotate the responsibility of watching for ways to reduce energy use by designating a different student each week to make sure unused electronics are unplugged and that lights are turned off when they are unnecessary.
Design a Lights Out campaign with your students. In essence, you want to remind everyone in the school to turn out lights any time they leave a room or when there's enough sunshine to light up a space. Every little bit counts.
First, find out from your facilities manager how much electricity your school uses each month. Then you can check again when your campaign is in full swing to see if you're having an impact. Next, make clever signs that can be posted by light switches. Finally, devise a way to reprimand and reward people and put the students in charge of watching for people who have forgotten to turn off lights and people who remember.
For older students, you can make this about more than just lights. Spearhead a comprehensive energy conservation program at your school. Invite someone from your local utility company to visit the school and do a comprehensive audit with your students. Identify the ways in which your school could quickly and easily make changes to conserve energy. The best way to conduct a broader conservation program in your school is to make it a schoolwide effort. Teachers, students, facility staff, and administrators should all play a role. Try to convince your school district to reward a percentage of the savings back to the school — providing an added incentive for everyone to do their best to save energy.
Vending machines are often overlooked, but they are among the most insidious energy vampires. The VendingMiser is the answer to the silent suckers. By installing a VendingMiser, each vending machine will use about half the energy. You can also install them on coolers and other snack machines. Learn more by going to www.usatech.com and clicking on “EnergyMisers.”
Either encourage your school to find it in their budget to buy Misers (they generally pay for themselves in the money you save in one year), or host a fundraiser to buy them. You could have families or classrooms adopt vending machines to get them Misers and save energy to protect the planet! Don't forget to make signs that talk about the Misers and how much energy you're saving so everyone who uses the machines can learn from your efforts.