Back to school means back to energy savings

I love back-to-school time.

I mean LOVE it.

Even as a kid, I would count down the days until school started again and then would lie in bed, wide awake, too excited ...

Tagged: back to school, save energy, school supplies

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Back to school means back to energy savings

Preteen points to drawing of light bulb on a chalkboard

What I don’t remember is how much everything costs. All those glue sticks, back packs and markers can really add up. Thankfully, having the kids at school all day might lead to some energy savings at home to help offset some of those expenses.

Key Points

  • Back to school expenses can add up, but energy savings can help offset them.
  • After the kids are away at school all day, a few changes at home can save energy.
  • Opt for energy efficient tech, unplug unused devices and adjust the temp while kids are away.

I love back-to-school time.

I mean LOVE it.

Even as a kid, I would count down the days until school started again and then would lie in bed, wide awake, too excited to sleep the night before the first day.

And now that my kids are in school, I get to buy school supplies again and even go sit in a tiny desk for kindergarten orientation.

It’s just as much fun as I remember.

What I don’t remember is how much everything costs. All those glue sticks, back packs and markers can really add up.

Thankfully, having the kids at school all day might lead to some energy savings at home to help offset some of those expenses.

 Here are a few tips to help:

Opt for energy efficient tech

My kindergartener probably won’t need a computer this year to write her dissertation about how to do a perfect cartwheel. But older students might start to require extra hardware at home — like printers and computers. According to the Department of Energy, an Energy Star-approved monitor can save you as much 90 percent since this tends to be a device that’s on frequently. Check for the Energy Star label on all your electronics to save some energy and money.

Unplug

Even if all your electronic devices are considered energy efficient, they still use some energy even when not in use. Unplug things like video game consoles, iPods and laptops when no one is using them to avoid wasting energy. You could save 5-10 percent on your total household electricity bill.

Adjust the temp at home

Now that the kids are away during the day, you can raise your thermostat a bit when it’s warm outside and lower it a few degrees when it’s cooler out. You can save 4-8 percent on your cooling or heating with each degree you change it.

Now go ahead and get yourself a few new, freshly sharpened No. 2 pencil. You know you want to.


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned a degree in political science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the governor’s office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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Teaching your kids these tips could save your school district some serious dough

If you’ve noticed lots of pictures of small children wearing very large backpacks in your Facebook feed, you probably already figured out that school is starting.

But ...

Tagged: save energy, Alliance to Save Energy, school, back to school

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Teaching your kids these tips could save your school district some serious dough

Schoolboy standing in front of chalkboard

School buildings spend more on energy than they spend on computers and textbooks combined.

Key Points

  • School is starting soon.
  • K-12 schools spend $8 billion on energy.
  • Teaching our kids to save energy at school could help lower that

If you’ve noticed lots of pictures of small children wearing very large backpacks in your Facebook feed, you probably already figured out that school is starting.

But here’s something that probably didn’t appear in your “trending news section”: school buildings are the third-largest energy user of all commercial building types. According to the Alliance to Save Energy , K-12 schools spend $8 billion and universities spend $6 billion on energy – more than they spend on computers and textbooks combined.

Groups like the Alliance to Save Energy have programs to help students lead the charge to save energy and lower their school’s energy costs. One way to do that is by helping peers and teachers change some everyday behaviors.

Here are some tips from California’s Consumer Energy Center:

Turn Out the Lights

Lighting is one of the largest consumers of energy in the classroom. By turning out the lights when a classroom is unoccupied, the school can save money. The school also may want to consider "occupancy sensors" that detect whether there are people in the room. If no one is there, the switch turns off the light.

Stop the Drips

Hot water is another commodity that uses a great amount of energy. By fixing dripping hot water faucets, you can save water and save energy. If it's cold water, you should still fix the drip, because sanitizing and delivering water spends energy, too.

Close the Doors

Leaving doors wide open to a room or building may make it more inviting, but it wastes energy. Don't prop doors open – allow them to close after people walk through the doorway.

Change the Settings

If there are no health issues, change the thermostat settings to 78 degrees during warmer months and 68 during cooler months. Doing so will lower the heating and air conditioning use.

Reuse and Recycle

If the school doesn’t have a recycling effort, do it now. Reusing or recycling paper saves money and energy. And don’t forget to recycle aluminum cans and plastic bottles.

None of these ideas are new, but encouraging our kids to take the energy lessons they learn at home to the classroom could make a big impact on their school’s expenses.


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the entire world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned an M.A.in Political Science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the Governor’s Office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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Energy savings: More fun than your back-to-school Facebook feed

Quick: Where do most of your energy dollars go? No, it’s not charging your phone after posting 20 first-day-of-school pictures of your kids on Facebook.

It’s heating.

And ...

Tagged: save energy, energy audit, Home Heating, back to school

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Energy savings: More fun than your back-to-school Facebook feed

June Folsland's first day of school

Do you know where most of your energy dollars go?

Key Points

  • Back to school means winter is on its way.
  • That means it’s time to get your house ready.
  • Sometimes the best bang for your buck is calling a pro.

Quick: Where do most of your energy dollars go? No, it’s not charging your phone after posting 20 first-day-of-school pictures of your kids on Facebook.

It’s heating.

And since it’s almost heating season, we have to talk about the elephant in the “keeping energy affordable” room: how to save energy this winter by reducing your heating costs.

What you’ll need:

  • A phone.
  • Caulk and weather stripping.
  • A phone.

Why the phone? Because even though there are a lot of things you can do yourself, like caulk and weather strip your windows, turn down the thermostat and wear your Daniel Tiger sweater (Mr. Rogers to those born before 1990), or open your curtains during the day to let the sunshine in, other things require a pro.

According to Consumer Reports magazine, having the ductwork professionally sealed in your forced-air system can save you hundreds every year. Twenty-five to 40 percent of air, whether heated or cooled, is lost to leaks. Another good bang for your buck is making sure your attic is adequately insulated. You need 11 inches of fiberglass or rock wool or 8 inches of cellulose insulation to get the job done.

Still not convinced? Take a moment to fill out a home energy audit to pinpoint where your home might save some energy dollars. Most utilities offer one for free. Wherever you live, I’d bet you an LED light bulb yours has one too.

After you’re done with that, go ahead and head back to Facebook to post that other shot of your kids walking away from you wearing their gigantic backpacks. No, you haven’t posted too many yet. And yes, they are adorable.  


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the entire world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned an M.A.in Political Science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the Governor’s Office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

Did you like this article? Here are some other articles that include: save energy, energy audit, Home Heating, back to school