Thursday, December 13, 2012

Today's Energy Insight

It's the middle of December already so it's about time to post some Holiday energy tips. There is a lot of information out there so it can be a bit overwhelming. Click here for a great easy to read article from Clean Currents Green Energy Solutions with 5 Tips for an Energy Efficient Holiday.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Today's Energy Insight

By placing a dry bath towel in the dryer with a load of wet laundry, you can cut down on drying time and save energy. When you add dry and absorbent material to the wet fabric, some of the moisture is wicked away by the dry towel. Add two towels to a large load if there is enough room but don't overload the dryer, this inhibits the tumbling action that allows air to circulate through the laundry drying it.
Also, clean the lint trap after every load allowing for maximum circulation and run loads back to back so the dryer doesn't cool down between loads.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Today's Energy Insight

Terri Bennett from the Kansas City Star recently published the following tips on how to have an eco-friendly Thanksgiving:

Do Your Part:
Top 5 Ways to Green Your Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving should be about a lot of things - family, friends, and breaking bread together. It shouldn't be about waste. This year, Do Your Part to make your Thanksgiving holiday an eco-friendly affair. To help you get started, here are my top five tips for being greener and healthier this Thanksgiving.
1. Serve local or organic foods
On a holiday that features a bountiful feast, serving organic or local food and drinks can have a big impact. When buying a turkey choose a local vendor or brush up on food label claims before you head to the market. Don't know where to start? Check out for information on local turkey sellers and information on healthier choices when doing your holiday grocery shopping.
2. Use nature as decoration
Make beautiful centerpieces and decorations with seasonal items from nature. Some examples include winter gourds, seasonal corns, or pinecones. If you use evergreen branches, let them soak for a day in a water-filled cooler to give them an extra boost of moisture. There's no need to spend big bucks on elaborate centerpieces when you can find all the ingredients in your own backyard. Add a few soy candles in various sizes for a finishing touch.
3. Rent or borrow tableware
If your guest list outnumbers your dinner plates, consider renting extra supplies from a party service. Or ask friends or relatives if you can borrow a few pieces to round out your set. Reusable napkins and cups are the most eco-friendly choice but if you must use disposables choose items that are made from recycled material or are easily recycled.
4. Use reusable "to-go" containers
When it comes to leftovers, reusable containers are the greenest choice. If you send out invitations, ask guests to help you stay green by bringing their own take-home containers. If you think a few people may forget, consider purchasing inexpensive containers as an eco-friendly parting gift.
5. Prep your vehicle for the road
And waste doesn't just come in the form of food and party supplies. If your Thanksgiving plans involve a road trip, make sure your vehicle is ready to go. First, make sure to take care of any necessary maintenance before the big day. And maximize fuel efficiency by removing unnecessary weight from the trunk and checking that your tires are properly inflated.
There's no need to wasteful this November. Do Your Part to enjoy the big feast and your family without spending extra money or creating more trash for the landfill. That's something we can all be thankful for this year.
(Terri Bennett is a veteran TV meteorologist, eco-expert and author of "Do Your Part," a practical guide for everyday green living available at

Read more here:

Read more here:

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Energy Observations at SEA

Thank you to Ms. Gentry's and Mr. Wulff"s 4th grade classes at the School for Engineering and Arts for inviting me to visit today. One of the students dubbed our time together as "Energy Observations." I like it. As you can see, the 4th graders were busy taking notes and calculating the cost of the energy needed to illuminate the fluorescent light bulbs above them in the media center.
The students asked some great questions as we talked about different types of light bulbs and the various wattage amounts. We also discussed phantom or vampire energy and the classes were given a homework assignment to hunt for vampire energy around their homes tonight.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Today's Energy Insight

Did you know that leaving your computer on draws an average of 50-300 watts, about as much as a common refrigerator? To save energy, a general rule of thumb for shutting down as opposed to leaving your computer up and running is about 20 - 30 minutes. If you are going to be away from your computer for longer than a half hour, then consider shutting down and restarting upon your return.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Dress for the Temp

Before you reach to turn up the thermostat a degree or two or five, try adding a layer. I remember being about 8 years old when I saw that the round dial type thermostat we had on the wall went up over 100 degrees. It was the middle of a really cold winter in Michigan and I asked my mom if we could turn it up to 90 degrees and wear shorts. Well, you can just imagine what her answer was... Even a degree or two does make a difference so try bumping your thermostat down and dress for the temperature.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The 6 Rs

Recently spotted on the campus of the University of Wisconsin in La Crosse was not your typical environmental awareness poster. This campaign went beyond the well known three Rs: Reduce Reuse Recycle. Also included were two additional appropriate words when it comes to being good environmental and energy stewards, Re-buy and Rethink. The poster got me to thinking about the current Pinterest trend which includes a lot of repurposed clothes and household items so I added a sixth R to the list. So please keep in mind the six Rs...
So instead of breaking up wooden pallets for your backyard bonfire, there are endless ways to repurpose the pallets. Below are just a few creative examples of what you can make out of discarded wooden pallets.
Outdoor lawn chairs

Rustic wall curio
Rolling patio table
Compost bin

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Inquiring Minds at SEA

Thank you to Ms. Kinville's 4th grade class at the School of Engineering and Arts for inviting me into their classroom this morning. The students were wondering how much it cost to operate the lights in their classroom and how much is saved by turning off the lights.
We talked about the fluorescent light bulbs in their room and the amount of energy each bulb uses. The students were able to calculate the wattage into kilowatts and then into kilowatt hours. We talked about the per kilowatt hour amount the district is charged and also discussed how this can vary based on the demand charges specific to the building. Once the students came up with the amount for one bulb, they then multiplied by the total number of bulbs in the room. The calculations continued as they figured out the cost for their classroom lights to run for one hour, then six hours per day and then for the entire school year.
Next we looked at three types of light bulbs: incandescent, CFL and LED. The students were able to compare the different wattage of the bulbs anywhere from a 100 watt incandescent down to an 8 watt LED. The fourth graders asked many great questions and we were able to talk about several different energy-related topics including alternative energy sources, vampire energy and ways to be efficient with energy use both at home and school.
Ms. Kinville and her awesome 4th graders at SEA.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Have a fun, safe and efficient Halloween, everyone!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Energy Awareness Month

From the home office in White Bear Lake, see the inspiring and personal message below from Class 5 Energy, the parent company of Schools for Energy Efficiency, in recognition of Energy Awareness month.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Today's Energy Insight

Winter Winds are Coming!
Did you know a 1/8 inch gap around an exterior door is equivalent to a six inch square hole in the side of your house and causes a lot of energy loss? When put in those terms I realized I would not leave a gaping hole in the side of my house all winter so I'd better check for air leaks. There are two ways to check your exterior doors:
Have someone stand on the other side of the door and shine a flashlight around the door's perimeter. If you can see light through the cracks, your door needs sealing.
Hold a piece of paper between the door and the frame and shut the door. If you can pull the paper out without tearing it, you should weather strip around the door.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Today's Energy Insight

Residential, Industrial, Commercial and Transportation.

In the United States in 2010, which of these consumed the highest amount of energy at 30.8% and which consumed the least of the four at 18.6%?

Scroll down to check your answer...

According to the Energy Information Administration, U.S. energy consumption by sector for 2010 breaks down as follows:

30.8%  Industrial
28.1%  Transportation
22.6%  Residential
18.6%  Commercial

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Today's Energy Insight

The EPA estimates that 80% of these and 70% of these
used in offices are left on overnight.

A) Fax machines and radios

B) Task lights and computer monitors

C) Printers and copy machines

D) Coffee pots and lava lamps

Scroll down to check your answer...

All of these items are left on at various times but 80% of printers and 70% of copiers are left on in offices resulting in lost energy. If you are the last one in your area, please be sure these items are shut off for the night. Also, try to get in the habit of using the energy saver button found on most copy machines. Every little effort, no matter how small, does make a difference, thanks for doing your part! Oh, and C is the correct answer.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Today's Energy Insight

To switch off or to leave on?
That is the question...

Does turning fluorescent lights off use more energy than leaving them on?

A common misconception is that there is a boost of energy required to power up a bulb so you should leave lights on when leaving an area for a short amount of time. It turns out, however, the power surge is so brief that its energy draw doesn't amount to much; the equivalent of a few seconds or so of normal operation, according to U.S. Department of Energy estimates. In other words, strictly from an energy saving standpoint, it's almost always beneficial to shut off fluorescents when leaving a room—the start-up energy is offset by the power saved in even the briefest outages.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Today's Energy Insight

Now that it's September and schools are back in session, today's energy insight is a timely post from Class 5 Energy.
Click here for a link to fifteen Back-to-School Energy Efficient Behaviors. Please check it out!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

It's a New School Year and a great time to make a resolution to save some energy! Remember that every flip of a switch, push of a button, or any effort to conserve energy adds up to big savings for our district. It's a team effort so please do your part to stretch our dollars further and keep the money in the classrooms to benefit all of the awesome students in Robbinsdale Area Schools.
Stay tuned for exciting news and information about what all lies ahead in the first year of the SEE® program. Also, coming soon, the first quarterly report of avoided costs/savings compared to the established baseline.

Happy New School Year!
Have a groovy and efficient Labor Day Weekend!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Today's Energy Insight

Leaving a ceiling fan on while you are not in a room will help keep it cool.

Scroll down to check your answer...

FALSE! Ceiling fans cool people, not rooms.  Unlike air conditioning units, fans are simply recirculating air and creating flow – that slight breeze we feel cools us down, but does not actually alter the air temperature.  Save energy by turning off the air conditioner and turning on the ceiling fan while you are in a room…but keep both the fan and AC off when you leave!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Green Olympics

As part of their bid for the 2012 summer Olympics which open tomorrow, London made a commitment to host the greenest Olympic games in the tournament's recent history. According to the official website for the London 2012 games, organizers are quoted as saying, "When we bid to host the 2012 Games, we made a radical proposal to the International Organising Committee. We weren’t only going to put on the biggest sporting event in the world; we were going to hold the world’s first truly sustainable Olympic and Paralympic Games, leaving a legacy far beyond the departure of the Olympic Flame."

The most energy efficient venue in Olympic Park is the velodrome, an indoor arena with banked tracks for bicycle racing.The energy efficient features of the velodrome include:

·         A lean building shape and curved roof that rises toward the ends, which allows heat to escape upward and adds extra seats.
·         Windows that illuminate the track with daylight and minimize need for electric light.
·         A 100% natural ventilation system that eliminates the need for air conditioning.
·         A "smart" building management system that controls the venue's many mechanical, electric and plumbing systems for optimal energy efficiency and water efficiency.
·         Special insulation in the building exterior that will keep heat in during the winter.
For more information on the sustainability of the London games and to see the official countdown to the opening ceremonies, click here.
Click here for a complete schedule of all the events.

GO Team U.S.A.!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

DVR = Huge Energy Vampire

According to a report from The National Resources Defense Council, DVR boxes and satellite receivers use more energy than a typical new flat screen TV and cost U.S. consumers $3 billion in energy annually -- $1 billion to operate when in active use and an additional $2 billion while inactive but still running at near full power. "Set-top boxes are the ultimate home energy vampires, silently sucking significant amounts of energy and money when nobody’s using them,” said Noah Horowitz, senior scientist at the NRDC. Click here to read the entire article from the National Resources Defense Council.

One way to reduce the amount of vampire energy being consumed by your television's electronic appendages is to use a power strip and switch off your TV, DVR, DVD player, video game console, etc. when when you go to bed or are out of the house. Just be mindful of the fact that if you want to record a program, leave the DVR box on, otherwise powering down these energy vampires when possible will result in noticeable savings.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Today's Energy Insight

Are you tired of the question,
                      "Is it hot enough for you?"

The following suggestions are courtesy of Minnesota Valley Electric Coop. As we near triple digit temperatures today, please keep these in mind:

  • Choose meals that don't contribute additional heat to your home (use a microwave or outdoor grill instead of an oven)
  • Delay running the dishwasher until after 10 p.m.
  • Delay washing clothes until after 10 p.m.
  • Turn off excess lights and keep curtains and draperies closed
  • Turn off computers and other electrical equipment when not in use.
  • Avoid leaving doors open for extended periods of time
  • If you're using an air conditioner, turn your thermostat up a couple degrees to save energy 
  • Consider traveling to a nearby mall, movie theater or restaurant to beat the heat

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Today's Energy Insight

     By replacing your home’s five most frequently used light bulbs with models that have earned the ENERGY STAR label, a household can save more than $60 a year in energy costs. Just imagine the savings if you swapped out most or all of your light bulbs for energy efficient ones! Additionally, if every home in America changed their five most frequently used light bulbs with those that have earned the ENERGY STAR label, we would prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from more than eight million cars. Wow, that is eliminating a lot of pollutants!