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Energy: Enlighten, Educate, and Change

 

 

Are You Wasting Energy? How Do You Use Energy? How Can You Save Energy?

Overview

The target audience I identified to promote grassroots action is my school. Encouraging my fellow students to change the way they use energy in both the school and their homes will positively affect the environment. Each student could complete his own energy audit to put into perspective how much energy he (and his family) are using. That will be the enlightening portion of my project, showing people what actually goes on in their houses. Once they are aware of this, they need to be educated on the ways to save. Making posters around the school can inform people to save water when washing their hands, and turn off the lights and using the sunlight as lights. Also, since kids follow social media, I have created a Facebook page that promotes change and students can share how they have made a change in their school and in their home as well.

 

Enlighten

The first piece of my project is to enlighten my participants on their frivolous use of energy. To do this, I invited students to take a Personal Energy Audit, an assessment of personal use of energy, created by students at Lehigh University.  What I received back was what I expected. Huge amounts of energy was being used by these students, and a lot of this usage could be avoided.

These are examples of the results of three different students who took the personal energy audit, and how they were enlightened to the amount of energy they are wasting. Each had a different focal point to their excessive energy use.

The orange boxes represent each student’s summary audit results, estimating overall energy consumption for a year

  • Student 1

The most notable finding of this student’s energy usage is the amount of energy he uses for his entertainment. This includes watching television, computer usage, video games, etc. After putting into perspective the amount of hours he leaves appliances on for, he and I were baffled. When he leaves the television on at night while he sleeps, that usage of energy adds up rapidly.

 

  • Student 2

Unlike student 1, Student 2’s main energy use didn’t come from leaving appliances on all night, but from personal care. This includes shower time, amount of water you use to wash your clothes, etc. He washes clothes all the time, and uses the shower for an extensive period. He can easily cut down on those two things alone.  I encouraged him to ask his parents and siblings to cut down on their water use as well.

The great thing about this student is that he learned what he did wrong, and made a difference with other people. He didn’t just do the right thing himself,  he went above and beyond and passed his knowledge on to other people.

 

  • Student 3 

 

For Student 3, his problem centers around his excessive use of transportation. Of course we can’t avoid car, bus, or train rides to and from school or even work, but we can substitute some of those wasteful miles by walking or riding a bike. For Student 3, luckily he owned a bike. So, instead of driving to the store that’s a few miles away from his house everyday, he rode his bike, which affected his total energy use.

 

Educate 

The next step of my three step process is to educate the participants.

 

  • Just to Get Your Foot in The Door

I live in Baltimore, Maryland so most of our energy comes from a company known as BGE (Baltimore Gas and Electric). BGE provides Baltimore residents heating, cooling, electrical and plumbing services.

BGE sells items such as water heaters, generators, and even solar panels. They will even improve your home with energy efficient doors, windows, and insulation. All of the appliances in my house are powered by BGE. While I don’t use any of the more green options that BGE advertises, it would be a good idea because in my house we use a lot of unneeded energy.  I encourage you, if you don’t live in Baltimore, to find out who provides your energy. And when you do, invest in the more green options because it will be a huge help in the long run.

  • How can we combat wasting our energy and even money?
    • Riding Bikes Instead of Cars
      • Cars produce .97 pounds of CO2 emissions/pollution every mile while bikes produce none.
      • Use of natural resources gets cut down because the natural resources it takes to make and maintain a bike is drastically lower than cars.
      • Less of an environmental footprint than car
      • A bonus is that you can get some exercise as well!

  • Unplug appliances
    • When you plug in any appliance, even when it is off it still uses energy. To combat this, you can unplug the appliance when it isn’t being used.
    • Plugged in appliances (when not in use) are called Energy Vampires. Some of the top energy vampires included:
      • Television
      • Laptops
      • Radios
      • Lamps

  • Cut Down On Shower Time
    • For a standard shower head, every extra minute wasted equates to 2.5 gallons of unused water
      • Energy rich water running down the drain
    • An average of 1.2 trillion gallons of water is used throughout the United States yearly, and 200 million gallons of that are wasted
    •  Showers are one of the biggest energy hogs in a household because of the amount of energy that the water heater has to use to heat it

 

Change 

After enlightening and educating the three students, I asked them to change the way they lived. Educated in new ways to change their energy consumption, they retook their energy audits, which looked a lot better the second time they filled them out.

(These are the updated overall energy consumption estimates of the students after correcting their ways)

  • Student 1

For Student 1, after educating him on the different ways to save energy using the unplug technique, turning off his television at night, and overall less appliance use, the numbers on his audit improved a lot. His kW*h/year decreased by over 9,oo0. Also his out of pocket cost per year reduced by over $1,000.

 

  • Student 2

Student 2’s problem came from his large number of family members and the use of personal care items, such as showers and the washing machine. With the support of his family, he reduced the amount of time they spend in the shower by half. These efforts showed in their kW*h/year reducing to 132,885.96.

 

  • Student 3

By reducing the amount of miles he drives, he reduced his estimated kW*h/year an exponential amount. Times where he drove his car to practice everyday when he lives a few miles out were over. He rode his bike to and from practice, and to the store when he needed to go.

Call For Action 

 

https://www.facebook.com/EnEdCh/

In this link, you will find some of the reflections from the three  students who participated in the project. You can feel free to post your thoughts on the project, or even how you will change your energy usage habits. Thank you for engaging in my presentation, and SHARE, spread the word!!!

A few questions that you might answer to get you started:

  • What have you learned from this presentation, and your thoughts?
  • What are some ways you use energy?
  • Are any of those ways using an excessive amount of energy?
  • How can you save and spread the word?

 

Ayende Watson

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COMMENTS: 4
  1. April 28, 2017 by Nicholas V Reply

    This is a very cool project, Ayende. What inspired you to choose to do an experiment with those three students regarding their overall energy usage. A great presentation, I learned a lot about unplugging appliances and how that simple task can really help the environment. Great work!

  2. April 29, 2017 by Ben W. Reply

    Ayende – Thanks for promoting institutional change through your use of energy audits and education to help students reduce their usage and costs. It’s impressive that you helped one college student save $1000 through conservation! Were people surprised at how small changes could really add up? Ben

  3. May 01, 2017 by Georgina Steel Reply

    Hey Ayende! I love the way you went about your project through “Enlighten, Educate, and Change.” I think it is very important to tell people how they can improve and reduce their emissions if you tell them that they use too much or they they have a big environmental footprint. Your participants will be able to take your lessons with them forever now and change the way they live. I also think it is great to use social media so you can reach a bigger audience. I love how you did a before and after of the 3 people you studied. It is so impactful to see the change for people! I also think the information in “Educate” is broken down and displayed in an easily comprehensible way making it more accessible to multiple audiences. Amazing Job!

  4. May 03, 2017 by Wade O Reply

    I loved this presentation Ayende. I thought it was awesome how you included the energy audit into your presentation. Great job buddy

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