The Delta County School District is competing in an energy contest for big money. The sponsor of this program, the Colorado State Energy Office, is awarding $50,000 in prize money to schools who can make the biggest cut in energy use.
The contest is open to different districts, so this year, the Delta County School District is the district that gets to be part of the contest. The competition is only between schools in the district.
Instead of saying that the winning school gets all $50,000, the money is split so that the winning high school gets $12,000 and middle school gets $12,000.
On average, every school in Delta County spends about $60,000 a year on electricity and then more on gas, but we’re not measuring natural gas, like our heaters and other items that use energy. We’re just measuring electricity. So $60,000 is a lot of money.
The average person at home might spend about $1, 000 a year or $1,500 a year on electricity, but the school, $60,000, and some of the schools are even up to $70,000.
So, if Delta schools could save some money on electricity, there could be more money in our school district for programs for staff, students, and maybe even classroom upgrades.
Besides that, Benjamin Graves, a science teacher at Delta High School said “Wasting electricity is wasting natural resources and a lot of our electricity, and Delta specifically, is brought from coal plants in Nebraska and different parts of Colorado.”
So, we’re burning a lot of our coal to make electricity and some of that electricity is wasted at school because students don’t pay the bills, teachers don’t pay the bills, even our principals don’t pay the bills. So, the whole goal is to try to help people be aware that schools use a lot of electricity which has a huge cost on our planet by burning all these fossil fuels, and we can easily reduce some things, not everything.
Graves’s solar energy class will be competing in the competition. They’re going to be leaders by looking into on how to save energy. Graves’s 9th grade environmental science class will also be part of this competition.
The classes will be monitoring electricity with meters that are hooked up to our electrical panel which are near the circuit breakers. The meters have been measuring our electricity all year so far. Graves’s solar energy class will have to try to beat our average.
So, it’s not like Delta is competing against a smaller school like Hotchkiss, the school is competing against itself to see who can beat the average. Their goal is to use less electricity to save more money.
This has been done in previous schools like Pueblo, Fort Collins, or Colorado Springs. When they did this, they reduced bills by 20% of $60,000 which is like $12,000 a year. That’s a lot of money each year.
Starting Monday of next week, the competition officially begins. DHS will start beginning to brainstorm on how we can help save energy.
As simple as it is, Graves has even turned off all of his lights in his classroom because he has windows in his classroom and the windows are are plenty bright enough.
It can be as simple as trying to turn off fridges, freezers, extra heaters, things that are unnecessary. We don’t have to turn off things that are necessary. We can’t turn off the dishwashing equipment in the kitchen. It’s probably our biggest electricity use, but we can’t shut that off, that is necessary. We want to find things that are unnecessary. For example, most people have ipads, laptops, or cellphones. The charging station does not need to stay on the whole time. Sometimes, we might find that some teachers have mini fridges. It can help if they turn those off to help us save electricity.
There’s also another way to earn points. Besides turning off appliances, DHS can earn points by doing special activities. Some of these activities are having students teach younger students about energy and electricity. Some of Graves’s solar students have already gone to Garnet Mesa Elementary School to do that. They can earn some extra points for DHS. They can also earn points by making different types of flyers or presenting to the administration or inviting guest speakers to come and talk to students at DHS.