Rising demands of energy mean conservation is as important as ever

The majority of students in Central Kentucky, as well as their teachers and parents, have little practical knowledge about energy production in the state or the impact that energy production has on our culture, economy, and natural resources. With funding provided by the Department for Energy Development and Independence, Bluegrass Greensource environmental educators are able to provide this much-needed exposure in the classroom and at family science fairs.

As future leaders, today’s students need to be knowledgeable so they can make informed decisions in their lives today and in the future. Now, more than ever, it is imperative to continue educating Kentucky’s students about our energy sources, teaching both the positive and negative aspects of using coal and alternative energy sources.

Through a series of experiential classroom activities, each aligned to Kentucky’s Core Academic Standards, students learn about coal and its role in the economies of Kentucky and the nation; the historical and cultural aspects of coal production; and the environmental challenges related to the production and use of coal. These energy-related activities also enable students to explore the feasibility of alternative energy resources and their role in meeting the energy needs of Kentucky and the nation.

Furthermore, students learn early on the importance of conserving and being more energy efficient as a way to offset the rising demands of energy in Kentucky.

The following 10 energy conservation tips can help cut household energy costs this summer and ensure affordable and accessible energy resources for future generations:

1. When you leave your house, set the air conditioner’s thermostat to 85 degrees. When you return, lower the thermostat to a comfortable level. We recommend 78 degrees. Also, keep inside air vents clear from furniture and other objects.

2. Schedule regular service checks for your air conditioner unit. We recommend at least once a year. Replace filters when they start to get dirty. Changing filters regularly ensures your system is operating effectively and efficiently.

3. To minimize heat indoors, avoid heat-generating appliances during the day such as the clothes dryer, dishwasher and oven. When possible, let your clothes and dishes air dry and cook on an outdoor grill. We recommend avoiding the use of these major appliances between the hours of 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.

4. Set your water heater no higher than 120°F.

5. To cool your home without using energy, close the windows and blinds during the day and open them at night (make sure the A/C isn’t set lower than the outside temperature).

6. Invest in low-cost, high-efficiency fans to help your home stay cooler.

7. Set your washing machine to its cold water setting and clean the lint filter in the dryer after every use.

8. Make trips in and out of the refrigerator/freezer as quickly as possible. Never leave the door open while unpacking groceries or while deciding what to eat.

9. Unplug appliances and electronics when not in use. Plug home electronics, such as TVs, DVD players and computers into power strips and turn off power strips when not in use.

10. If you have a pool: Slowly reduce pool filtration time by 30-minute increments daily. You may only need to run your pool filter six hours a day. Install a timer to control the length of the pool pump cycle.

I encourage parents to share energy bills with their children. Together you can work on reducing your household’s energy consumption and save money at the same time. Children can do their part by turning the light off in their room when they leave, taking shorter showers, and turning devices off when not in use. Set a reasonable goal for your family’s energy reduction. Celebrate the amount of money you’ve saved that month by going out for pizza or ice cream, or by putting it in a vacation fund jar.

To further your understanding about Kentucky’s energy sources and to stay current on energy research and development, visit DEDI’s website.
emily casey

Emily Casey is an environmental educator at Bluegrass Greensource. She works primarily with elementary and middle school students. She has a bachelor’s education and environmental studies from the University of Vermont. Casey spends her free time exploring Lexington and spending time outdoors around the beautiful Bluegrass Region she now calls home.

This article appeared in KY Forward on July 30, 2015.

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