Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Thermal Infrared Imaging Camera

On the right are two infrared images of the same window, the bright red color indicates heat loss. In one image the window is not covered, in the other, an insulating drapery has been installed. The images make it clear and easy to see heat being lost where there is not sufficient insulation. During cold weather months, 40% of heat in the average home escapes through under insulated windows.

This winter, Schools for Energy Efficiency® (SEE) has provided our district with a thermal infrared imaging camera for checking building envelopes and locating the source of any heat loss in our facilities. The camera can also be used as a great visual activity for students. If you would like to check out this tool in your building or have the Energy Efficiency Coordinator visit your classroom, please contact me via email sheri_brunner@rdale.org or at ext. 8104.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Green Gift Giving

The Green Holiday theme continues...
Looking for the perfect eco-friendly gift? Click here for a link to Earth 911 and their Eco Holiday Gift Guide. There is a great list of ideas and if you click on an item it takes you to the Earth 911 on-line store so shopping could not be easier.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Dreaming of a Green Christmas?

Want to give a green gift this year? And here green is not referring to, as Lucy from the Peanuts says, cold hard cash, but green in the environmentally friendly sense. Check out this cool link: click here for the Holiday Gift Guide from Green America. There are several fun categories with all sorts of ideas for unique, green gifts.

Wishing you green and groovy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Today's Energy Insight

If you are trying to decide about switching to LED (light emitting diode) lights for decorating at this time of year, here are a few points to keep in mind.

  • New LED lights can last up to 20 years, do not contain any mercury and consume very low amounts of energy.
  • Older non-LED lights used 6 hours per day can cost about $30 per month in electricity while LED lights will cost about 50 cents for the same amount of time, quite a savings comparatively.
  • Additionally, LED lights do not generate heat and remain cool to the touch making them much safer than the traditional strands of lights that can get hot and become a fire hazard.
For the most efficient decorative lighting, have you seen the solar powered holiday lights now available? These turn on automatically at sunset, have all the adjustable options like twinkling and flashing, and best of all, use no electricity.

So here's to a merry, bright and efficient Holiday Season!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Good News!

The latest quarterly results are in and are you ready for some good news? For July, August and September 2014, Robbinsdale Area Schools reduced district-wide energy use overall by 11% which resulted in a whopping savings of (drum roll please)... $43,653.00! Way to go everyone, thanks for doing your part and being energy smart! Please keep up the good work!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

America Recycles Day

Since 1997 our country has celebrated America Recycles Day and that day is this Saturday, November 15th. This is the only day dedicated to promoting recycling in the United States. Click here to go to a link for information on this day of recognition for recycling. Click here to go to Earth 911 and information on what to recycle and where you can recycle these items. Lastly, click here to go to the Presidential Proclamation for America Recycles Day 2013.

What have YOU recycled lately?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Today's Energy Insight

Here are the top ten tips from the Edison Electric Institute for saving energy this Thanksgiving...

·   If a large group of people is expected for dinner, lower the thermostat a degree or two before the guests arrive otherwise, since people generate heat, the space may become wastefully overheated.
·  Check the refrigerator and freezer doors to make sure they seal tightly. This will keep the cold air in and the warm air out. To test it, close the refrigerator door on a dollar bill. If you can slip the bill out easily, or worse, if it falls out on its own, the door requires adjustment, or the gasket needs replacing.
·  Allow hot foods and liquids to cool before putting them in the refrigerator.  Uncovered, hot food and liquids give off vapors that make the refrigerator work harder. Use a lid or plastic wrap to cover the food and place in the refrigerator after cooling.
·  Use a “lids-on” approach to cooking. Tightly fitted lids on pots and pans help keep heat in, enabling you to lower the temperature settings and shorten the cooking times.
·  When boiling liquids, start by using the highest temperature settings to reach the boiling point. Then lower the heat control setting and allow the food to simmer until fully cooked.
·  Use the microwave instead of your regular oven whenever possible. Microwave ovens draw less than half the power of your regular oven, and they cook for a much shorter period of time.
·  When preheating your regular oven, time the preheat period carefully. Five to eight minutes should be enough time.  There is no need to preheat for broiling or roasting.
·  When using an electric oven, cook as much of your meal as possible in it at one time. Foods with different cooking temperatures can often be cooked simultaneously at one temperature – variations of 25 degrees Fahrenheit in either direction still produce good results and save energy.
·  After the feast, many people put the leftovers in a second refrigerator in their garage. This can be bad for both the food and the energy bill. If you live in a cold climate, frozen foods may melt (as the temperature sensor in the refrigerator will not activate the compressor if the temperature in the garage is 42 degrees Fahrenheit or lower).  And if you live in a warm climate, the refrigerator has to work extra hard to keep the food cold. If you have a second refrigerator, consider placing it in the basement or other insulated area of your home.
·  Finally, when all the cooking is done, don’t use your oven’s self-cleaning cycle unless a major cleaning job is needed. Wipe up minor spills and splatters with a damp cloth. When you do use the oven’s self-cleaning feature, start the cycle right after cooking, while the oven is still hot, or wait until late evening hours when use of electricity is lowest.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Today's Energy Insight

It's No Waste November and here is something to ponder:

The most efficient form of energy we have in the world today is the energy we do not have to produce. Think about it...

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Today's Energy Insight

Be sure to run full loads of dishes and laundry. Using your clothes  washer or dishwasher for frequent small loads wastes water. By running these machines when full, you will save up to 20 gallons of water per load, or 7,300 gallons a year. That is as much water as the average person drinks in their lifetime.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Today's Energy Insight

We have been enjoying some beautiful autumn weather  lately but winter winds will soon be here...

Did you know a one-eighth 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.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Today's Energy Insight

Make it a GREEN Halloween...

Please remember to re-use and/or recycle your costumes and decorations. And don't forget to compost those jack'o lanterns .

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Energy Awareness

Did you know October is Energy Awareness month?
How aware are you? The first person to email the correct answer to the follow question will receive a fun prize:

If our district staff and students were to reduce the overall energy consumption in all of our buildings by just 10%, the annual cost avoidance/savings would be:

A)  $20,000

B)  $71,000

C)  $120,000

D)  $210,000

Email your answer to:

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Today's Energy Insight

The temperatures are beginning to drop and winter weather will soon be here. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that sealing air loss and insulating the home can help homeowners save up to 20 percent on their heating costs. That, combined with its relatively low cost, makes insulation one of the most cost-effective values in increasing the energy efficiency of the home. Homes experience energy loss through inadequate insulation and gaps or cracks in the building envelope. Homes built as recently as 10 years ago were insulated to specs that are now considered inadequate. Up to 40 percent of a home’s energy loss escapes through the attic. Here are a few items to keep in mind as you prepare for the winter months ahead:

  • Replace air filters in furnace - every month during the winter.
  • Close fireplace flue when not in use (many flues are left open in homes for years without anyone noticing).
  • Turn on the humidifier on your furnace and replace the humidifier pad.
  • Repair weather stripping on outside doors.
  • Make sure you have adequate attic insulation.
  • Caulk and seal around all doors and windows.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Today's Energy Insight

If your water heater was manufactured before 2004, consider wrapping it with an insulating blanket designed specifically for this purpose. Newer water heaters don't need added insulation because the federal requirement for tank insulation was updated and increased in 2004. Most water heaters manufactured before then have less insulation which results in standby heat loss and wasted energy.

Water heating can account for as much as 17% of an average home's annual energy use so installing an insulating blanket can pay off quickly. Some manufacturers have specific guidelines for installing an insulating blanket, so be sure to check the owner’s manual. Also please note on gas units, areas not to cover include warning labels, the top of the unit, the pressure relief valve, the control panel, and any bottom air inlets.

And the last thought today on water heaters... it is a good idea to drain off a bucket of hot water from your water heater annually to remove sediment that will interfere with the heater's long-term use and efficiency. Speaking from recent experience at home, this was something we did not know should be done as preventative maintenance so we had to replace our water heater after we found years of sediment effecting our hot water pressure and ultimately damaging the unit.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Guest Reader Options

This fall there are 3 options for primary elementary classrooms when a teacher invites the Energy Efficiency Coordinator in as a guest reader. Please contact Sheri Brunner via email or call ext 8104 to schedule a visit with the EEC.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Today's Energy Insight

It's a brand new school year so now is the perfect time to make a resolution to save energy. If every building in our district reduced their overall energy consumption by 10%, the savings would be over $180,000 annually.
WOW… that is a HUGE cost avoidance for our district!!!

Saving energy stretches our district dollars further.
Thank You for doing Your part ~ Be Energy Smart!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Happy New School Year!

It's another New School Year and a great opportunity to make some changes and resolve to save some energy! Remember 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 the awesome students in the Robbinsdale Area School District.

Stay tuned for some exciting news about what all lies ahead in year 3 of the SEE program.

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

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Where is Energy?

The theme of the campaign for the new school year is Where is Energy? During this upcoming year, we will be focusing on education: integrating more in-depth energy education into the classroom as well as introducing water conservation topics. Through awareness campaigns and interactive activities, a fun, positive learning environment is established for both students and staff. Stay tuned for more news and information including a quarterly financial recognition for buildings that meet the goal of reducing their overall energy use by at least 10%. This will kick off during October which is Energy Awareness Month.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Good Question

"Why should I care about saving energy?"

It's simple really; saving energy in our district saves money. As district employees, we need to be good stewards of our taxpayer's money. It's also about saving the earth, this great big wonderful world our students are inheriting from us so we need to be good stewards of our planet too. So here's another good question for you to ponder...
What have you done today to save energy?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

More Energy History

Where was the world's first hydroelectric power plant built in 1882? Bonus points if you can also name the river on which it was located.

A)  Bangor, Maine
B)  Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
C)  St. Louis, Missouri
D)  Appleton, Wisconsin

Scroll down to check your answer...

On September 30, 1882, the world's first hydroelectric power plant began operation on the Fox River in Appleton, Wisconsin. The dam across the Fox River is pictured above. The plant, later named the Appleton Edison Light Company, was initiated by Appleton paper manufacturer H.J. Rogers, who had been inspired by Thomas Edison's plans for an electricity-producing station in New York. Unlike Edison's New York plant which used steam power to drive its generators, the Appleton plant used the natural energy of the Fox River. When the plant opened, it produced enough electricity to light Rogers's home, the plant itself, and a nearby building.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Energy History

In what year did the first power plant produce electricity? Bonus points if you know where in the country it was located.

A)  1858
B)  1882
C)  1901
D)  1912

Scroll down to check your answer...

Pictured in the two drawings above is the first Edison Electric Lighting Station on Pearl Street in Manhattan, New York circa 1882. At the time, it provided enough power to illuminate 80 light bulbs.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Energy Trivia

Which state consumes the greatest amount of energy today?

A)  New York
B)  Texas
C)  California
D)  Alaska

Scroll down to check your answer...

If ya'll said B) Texas, you would be correct!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Today's Energy Insight

In a recent article on the website Off the Grid News, several energy myths were listed and busted. One in particular stood out because some people I know (one of my sons specifically) will leave fans running in unoccupied areas ALL the time.

MYTH: Leaving fans on in summer when you leave the house is a good way to keep rooms cool. After all, if you allow your home to heat up while you are away, you will have to use extra energy to cool it down again once you return.

This is not true – fans move the air, but they don’t really cool it, and leaving them on when no one is around is a waste of time, money, and energy. There are a few exceptions like when controlling humidity during the summer by drawing cool air from an underground area to prevent mold.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Today's Energy Insight

By now you have probably heard that compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) use less energy and last longer than incandescent bulbs but here is something else to consider...

Standard incandescent bulbs create more heat than light, up to 90% of the energy these bulbs consume is then given off as heat. When running A/C, incandescent bulbs are actually working against you.  If you switch to CFLs your cooling costs will go down along with your lighting costs.

And that is your energy insight on this hot summer day!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

4th of July Energy Insight

Declare your Independence from High Energy Use!

Happy Birthday America! The best present you can give our country is to make one change in your daily routine to help conserve energy. Whether you replace an incandescent light bulb with a CFL or LED, or you use your light switch rather than rely on a motion sensor, or you power down or unplug unused electronics; these simple steps do make a difference. If just ¼ of all staff in the district made a small change to their energy-related habits, thousands of saving opportunities would be created every week. In a district our size, you CAN and DO make a difference. Thanks for being a team player!
 When we save energy, we are stretching our district dollars further!
Have a safe, energy efficient and groovy 4th of July, Everyone!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Today's Energy Insight

Building on the previous post, here is something else to consider...

An extra 100 pounds of weight in your car will reduce your fuel economy by as much as 2%.  Remove roof racks when not in use and keep your trunk empty for a fuel efficient ride.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Today's Energy Insight

You can save energy and money with your car by applying these two simple maintenance strategies:

By regularly checking and replacing the air filter you can save $130 per year and by keeping the tires properly inflated you can experience an annual savings of $840.

Just another fun fact courtesy of SEE.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Today's Energy Insight

Beat the Heat!

Here are some ways to save energy during these warm summer months...

Using ceiling fans to circulate air will make you feel cooler and possibly allow you to raise the temperature setting on your AC thermostat by a few degrees. But be sure to turn the fan off when you leave the room, because fans cool people, not rooms.

Clean or replace central AC system filters monthly – and window unit filters even more frequently.

Shift energy-intensive household chores such as laundry and dish washing to off-peak hours – nights, mornings, weekends – when there is less strain on the power grid, and operate these units with full loads to get the most for your energy dollars.

Plug energy leaks with weather stripping and caulking and be sure your house is properly insulated to save up to 20 percent on cooling (and winter heating) bills.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Today's Energy Insight

You see a lot of decorative shutters on the exterior of houses but there are also functional shutters available that can help reduce your energy consumption during the summer months. You can cut your cooling costs by up to 33% by blocking out sunlight with exterior shutters, blinds and awnings during the hottest part of the day.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Today's Energy Insight

Putting your computer in sleep mode reduces the amount of power it uses. You can save even more by switching off your monitor.

Today's energy insight is brought to you by the letter

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Hats Off!

Hats Off and Congratulations
to the
Armstrong and Cooper
Class of 2014!

Photo courtesy RAS Facebook page.

Wishing all the new grads a bright,
successful and
energy efficient future!

Photo courtesy RAS Facebook page.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Today's Energy Insight

Pretty soon hallways will be empty and quiet as students and most staff head off for a much deserved summer break. There are many opportunities to save energy over the next three months. As you prepare to leave your classroom, office, or area for the extended break, please make sure to do the following to keep our buildings operating efficiently throughout the summer months:

·                     Close blinds and drapes.
·                     Keep vents clear of books and boxes.
·                     Turn off monitors, printers, speakers, smart boards, etc.
·                     Turn off and unplug all miscellaneous electronics.
·                     Take home any plants and animals.
·                     Consolidate staff refrigerators; turn off, clean, prop open all but one.
·                     Empty, turn off, clean and prop open refrigerators in FACS and science rooms.
·                     Be aware of any opportunities to save energy during the summer months.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Are You Smarter Than a 6th Grader?

When it comes to energy, do you think you are smarter than a 6th grade student? CLICK HERE to try an on-line 6th Grade Energy Quiz. SEE how you do!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Today's Energy Insight

The Twin Cities finally hit 80 degrees over the Memorial Day weekend. It's been 236 days since the last 80 degree reading here back in September 2013. If running the air conditioner this summer is a necessity, make sure it's humming and efficient. Reducing your unit's energy consumption is good for your wallet, your carbon footprint, and ultimately, the planet. Here are a few tips to keep in mind...
  • Change Air Filters Once a Month: A dirty filter decreases efficiency, and reduces the life of your air-conditioner.
  • Clean Condenser and Evaporator Coils: Dirty coils cause the system to run longer because the system cannot function as well, jacking up your electrical bill.
  • Adjust Blower Components: This provides better airflow and thus more comfort. Airflow problems can reduce efficiency by 15%.
  • Tighten All Connections: Bad electrical connections are unsafe and can damage your appliance. 
  • Check Your Settings: Turn your AC down when you leave. A timer that turns off when you leave and restarts right before you get back is a good investment.

Source: Energy Star

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Today's Energy Insight

Adjusting your cooling or heating temperatures by just one degree Fahrenheit will result in a one to two percent energy savings. That may not sound like much but it does add up to make a difference.

Do your part and be energy smart!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Semi-annual Reminder

Warm weather is finally making its way to Minnesota so it is time to change your ceiling fan setting for the months ahead. During the cooling season, the blades should be rotating in a COUNTER-clockwise direction. If your fan is spinning clockwise, look for an adjustment switch located on the motor at the center of the fan and slide it in the opposite direction.

The effect of a ceiling fan in the summer is very similar to what we call a wind chill factor when outdoors in cold temperatures. By producing a breeze or windchill, the downward airflow of a ceiling fan can make a room with a thermostat setting of 78 degrees feel more like 72 degrees. The actual thermostat reading does not change, the fan does not cool the air in the room but the people in the room will feel the wind chill effect making them more comfortable.

And while you are up there, be sure to clean the blades and remove any dust and lint from the motor vents. This will help the fan operate more efficiently ultimately using less energy. Finally, a good tip to remember is to not leave a ceiling fan or any sort of fan running in an unoccupied room. Fans cool people but not spaces.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Cinco de Mayo

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, here are my top 5 tips, in no particular order...

1) Unplug idle or seldom-used electronics.

2) Use a power strip for your pc, printer, speakers, chargers, etc.

3) Use fans and ceiling fans only in occupied spaces, these cool people not spaces.

4) Flip off those light switches!

5) Replace incandescent light bulbs with CFL or LED bulbs, there are so many colors and options now.