Much of the world has become completely reliant on electricity. In fact, without electricity much of the modern-day comforts we enjoy would no longer be possible. Unfortunately, many people overuse or waste electricity, resulting in negative impacts both on the environment and the pocketbook. Saving energy through simple measures, such as turning off lights in unused rooms and turning down your water heater, can provide you and the environment with a wide range of benefits.
One of the most immediate benefits of saving electricity is the amount of money you will save each month on your utility bills. Each time you turn on a light or take a shower, you use energy, which your utility company keeps track of with meters installed on your home. By using less electricity, you are charged less money each month.
Another benefit of using less electricity is the positive impact you can have on the environment. Most electricity comes from energy produced by fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas and coal. These fuels are naturally found in the earth and in most cases require drilling or mining of the environment to be made available. These extraction processes come with many risks of environmental contamination from mining operations, drilling leaks or explosions, such as the catastrophic oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.
Using less energy also reduces the amount of transportation needed to move fossil fuels from their drilling or mining site. Every form of transportation requires fuel, including trucks, planes, trains and boats. The most common form of fuel for these vehicles is crude oil in the form of gasoline. When gasoline is burned to create energy, greenhouse gas emissions are created. These gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, trap heat in the atmosphere, contributing to global problems such as climate change, states the Environmental Protection Agency.
Once fossil fuels are transported to a power facility, some are burned to create electricity. For example, coal is ground and mixed with hot air in order to burn at a high heat. The heat from the coal is used to heat boilers which power turbines and create electricity. Unfortunately, burning the coal--like burning gasoline in a vehicles--creates greenhouse gas emissions. By reducing the amount of electricity you use, you reduce the amount of electricity that needs to be produced, thus reducing greenhouse emissions and positively affecting the environment.
Reducing your electrical use can also benefit your health. For example, turning off the television may encourage you or your kids to go outside and play or do something more active. Choosing to play board games instead of video games--saving electricity in the process--helps increase the health and happiness of your family by providing time together.
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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.