There are several ways to help cut down on energy consumption in the classroom. By getting your students in on the action and incorporating energy-saving techniques in lesson plans, you’re one step closer to minimizing your carbon footprint. Take note, implement and share the following ways to save energy in your classroom.
1. Get students to power down personal devices
From smartphones to laptops, students are on their gadgets all day long. If your school allows for personal device use by students during school hours, encourage your class to think again. While smartphones and tables do not soak up a lot of energy, these products still use electricity to stay powered on. With constant use, students’ phones might need recharging fairly often. If students can keep their device turned off while at school, they will end up saving energy since they won’t need to recharge as often.
2. Turn off lights when you leave a room
Switching the lights off when you leave the classroom seems like a pretty obvious task, but it’s something many people forget. Remind the kids to turn off any lights when a room is empty. Just think, if six 100-watt bulbs run for around six hours at 12 cents kWh, that’s 3,600 watt-hours and 43 cents used. If those same bulbs are only on if you’re in the room, you could potentially help save anywhere from $5 to $10 a month in electricity usage.
3. Unplug when you’re finished
Overhead projectors, televisions, computers and smart boards all use electricity for power, and many of them can use small amounts of energy if left plugged in. If a device has a remote or display light, you can guarantee it’s slowly but surely using electricity, even when it’s powered off. Be sure to unplug these type of items when they’re not in use.
4. Use timers to turn things on and off
If unplugging lights, devices or anything that uses the school’s electricity connection is hard to remember, there are always timers that can do the work for you. Electric outlet timers are found at most discount-retailers across the nation, and can run around $3 to $25 per device depending on the kind you prefer. Plug the timer into the wall, then the device into the timer, and set when to turn on and turn off the device. It’s pretty simple and one less thing for you to remember. In addition, you’re also saving energy.
5. Keep your door closed
Heating and cooling a room can be expensive, especially during the winter and summer. It’s hard to concentrate when all you can think about is how hot or cold you are; the same applies to students. By keeping your classroom door closed, you can cut down on HVAC energy consumption. Keeping a door open lets climate-controlled air escape, making the air conditioning and heater work overtime.
Save energy, save the environment
Although it may not be obvious, there's a direct connection between your energy use and the environment. When you consume less power, you reduce the amount of toxic fumes released by power plants, conserve the earth's natural resources and protect ecosystems from destruction. By taking steps to reduce your energy intake, you'll contribute to a healthier and happier world.
Protect the air and prevent climate change
Perhaps the most notable way that reducing energy helps the environment is by decreasing power plant emissions. To generate electricity, most power plants burn coal, crude oil or other fossil fuels. Although this method of creating energy is relatively inexpensive, our planet pays the price – carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides are just a few of the byproducts that come from traditional methods of power generation.
Carbon dioxide, which accounts for the majority of all airborne pollution, is a greenhouse gas. When carbon dioxide is released into the air, it absorbs the sun's warmth and keeps heat in our atmosphere. This "greenhouse effect" is a natural phenomenon, and it's necessary for survival on earth. However, as power plants burn more fuel to create more energy, the extra carbon waste traps too much heat. This can have a detrimental impact on our land and our lives. Effects of greenhouse gas emissions include:
- Rising temperatures, heat waves and drought
- Higher sea levels
- Abnormal weather patterns
- Increased intensity of natural disasters
- Smog and acid rain
Cutting back on energy consumption reduces the amount of electricity that power plants have to make, subsequently reducing the amount of fossil fuels that are burned each day. Even a small change can make a tremendous difference – if every American household traded in just one incandescent light bulb for an efficient CFL, the reduction in pollution would be equivalent to taking 1.3 million cars off the road.
Conserve limited natural resources
When you opt to cut back on energy use, you also help conserve limited natural resources that would otherwise be used to power the power plants. Less demand for energy creates less demand for harvesting fossil fuels. Turning off the lights at night or washing clothes in cold water can save trees, coal, natural gas and more. From an economic standpoint, it's critical to conserve our finite resources. As fossil fuels become increasingly scarce, they will become extremely expensive.
Save ecosystems and animals
In addition to impacting climate patterns and depleting stores of natural resources, excessive energy use can harm animals and ecosystems. Mining, logging and material extraction associated with the provision of fossil fuels destroys habitats on land and in the ocean. Human-induced air pollution is one of the main reasons that biodiversity is disappearing at 1,000 times the normal extinction rate.
Oil spills, which often occur during the transport of fossil fuels, wreak havoc on underwater species and throw of the chemical balance of our oceans, making it dangerous for humans to swim.
Although the EPA has set regulations to reduce chemical dumping, the toxic waste created by power plants hasn't disappeared. Coal-fired power plants are reportedly the largest source of toxic water pollution in the U.S. Each year, these energy plants discharge billions of tons of poisonous waste, often containing arsenic, mercury and lead.
Consume less, conserve more
Reducing electricity use in your home – or going off the power grid with solar energy –can benefit the environment, conserve resources and save lives. Although your own energy saving adjustments may seem inconsequential, small steps become great leaps when multiplied by 7 billion.