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7. Get everyone into the act.

There are a million little things that your school and district can do to save energy, and everyone can get into the act.

Some of the small but effective things, like planting trees around buildings, can be done with the help of parent and community volunteers. Trees prevent heat from reaching the building, provide shade and help improve the environment.

Checking door and window weather-stripping is another effective way to stop energy dollars from leaking through the cracks. Check outside air dampers, heating, ventilation and air conditioner filters. Replace old or broken caulking and weather-stripping. Develop maintenance schedules for keeping tabs on the condition of these items. Sound maintenance and operations procedures need to be in place to recoup savings associated with turning off lights in unoccupied areas, sensibly reducing equipment operations during the summer months, maintaining heating and air conditioning equipment and attending to caulking and weather-stripping problems to lower infiltration (but not at the expense of air quality). Savings generated from these actions may offset the cost of more expensive retrofits. It does little good to design or retrofit a building for energy efficiency if the building and its energy systems are not properly operated and maintained.

The bottom line for most energy management programs is getting the people who control the energy-using equipment to understand how they are involved in the overall conservation of energy.

By developing policies and programs to promote and reward student and staff participation in energy conservation, the Spring ISD outside of Houston achieved energy savings. Spring ISD developed a rebate program that rewards each school for efficient energy use by sharing savings with any school that reduces its usage below the budgeted amount. The school receives a check for 50 percent of the savings amount. Spring ISD’s office of Construction and Energy reviews actual energy costs against budgeted amounts and sends a monthly report to each school. Principals encourage students and staff to participate in activities such as turning off lights and closing doors when leaving a room to retain conditioned air in the classrooms. Some principals have encouraged operation staff by sharing cost savings with the mechanics. The district has saved from 7 to 14 percent per year for the five years of the rebate program.

Get kids into the act. SECO has three Energy Education Outreach programs that can help your schools implement a million little, and not so little, things to save energy and get everyone into the act. There are two energy-monitoring programs: The WATTEAM, serving schools in Central Texas, and the Watt Watchers serving the rest of Texas. The third is the Texas Energy Education Development (TEED) project that serves junior high, middle school and high school student councils and science/environmental clubs in schools throughout Texas.

“Simple behavior changes alone save some $7,000 per school. That’s a lot of bake sales.” – David Nemtzow, President, Alliance To Save Energy (ASE).

Start an “Energy Patrol” in your school. Over 2000 Texas schools are participating in SECO’s Watt Watchers and WATTEAM Program. Student teams patrol assigned areas of their school, checking for lights left on in unoccupied rooms. “Tickets” or thank you notes are left for the occupants to remind them to turn off lights when they are not needed. Start-up kits and training for the patrols are free. This popular hands-on energy education program for students can actually save up to 30 percent on utility costs.

“Every school should do this. It just makes sense to teach this kind of responsibility and goodness knows, we all want to save money. I can’t think of any reason not to try it.” – Wayne Este, Hunt ISD, former school board president.

As mentioned earlier, student councils, science and environmental clubs and any school organization with an adult sponsor (grades 1-12) can do their part to educate their schoolmates, teachers and the general public about ways to save energy in their schools, homes and communities.

The TEED project can help students learn about energy resources and take an active role in teaching others the importance of using energy efficiently – all while having fun and gaining self esteem by doing worthwhile energy saving projects and activities.

An energy education program, such as TEED, will not only save money at schools, but will help students develop the habit of saving energy that will stay with them throughout their lives. In TEED, students conduct energy projects and activities throughout the school year that promote energy conservation awareness. These projects could range from designing posters and locker tags containing energy-saving reminders or tips, to mentoring elementary and middle school students on energy-saving projects, to weatherizing low-income homes in their community. A compilation of these projects and activities, an Energy Report, can be submitted to TEED for its “Outstanding Energy School” Awards Program, conducted in conjunction with the Texas Association of Student Councils each spring. The Energy Report form is available on the TEED website listed in this section.

“The TEED program has made a significant contribution to the energy awareness of our students, faculty and community. By applying techniques learned through TEED, our school has lowered the utility costs. It’s truly a worthwhile program” – Anne Newman, Teacher, Marshall High School.

Additional Resources:

Below is a list of additional resources you may find helpful. Information in the documents and URLs listed below are not necessarily endorsed by this agency, only provided as a resource.

Alliance to Save Energy
The Alliance to Save Energy promotes the use of today’s and tomorrow’s energy-efficient technologies that cut utility bills, energy use, and pollution while increasing home comfort.

Energy Education Outreach Program
WATTEAM is a student energy patrol that monitors energy waste in the public schools of Texas.
Toll-free phone number: 1-888-Watteam (928-8326)

Watt Watchers
The Watt Watchers program encourages student involvement in the way school buildings and its occupants use energy.
Toll-free phone number: 1-888-USWATTS (879-2887)

Texas Energy Education Development (TEED)

A “Kids Teaching Kids” philosophy of energy education.
Toll-free phone number: 1-888-TEED-TEX (833-3829)