Editor’s note: This article has been written by Delta High School students. Throughout the school year, these students will contribute about one story a week. If you have a suggestion for a topic to be covered, email email@example.com.
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 which can make the biggest cut in energy use.
The contest is open to different districts, so this year, the Delta County School District is one of the districts 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 more if you account for gas too. The district is not measuring natural gas that includes items like heaters and other items that use energy.
The average person at home might spend about $1,000 to $1,500 a year on electricity, but the high school sits at $60,000, and some of the other schools are even up to $70,000.
If Delta schools could save some money on electricity, there could be more money in the 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.”
Students are burning a lot of 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 the principals don’t pay the bills. The whole goal is to try to help people be aware that schools use a lot of electricity which has a huge cost on the planet by burning all these fossil fuels, and can easily be reduced in some things, but 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 ninth 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 the school’s electricity all year, so far. Graves’s solar energy class will have to try to beat the average.
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. The goal is to use less electricity to save more money.
This has been done in previous schools in Pueblo, Fort Collins and Colorado Springs. When schools did this, participants reduced bills by 20% of $60,000 which is like $12,000 a year. Starting Monday of next week, the competition officially begins. DHS will start beginning to brainstorm on how students 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 plenty bright enough.
It can be as simple as trying to turn off fridges, freezers, extra heaters, things that are unnecessary. The idea is that you don’t have to turn off things that are necessary. For example, the school can’t turn off the dishwashing equipment in the kitchen. It’s probably the biggest electricity use, but the school can’t shut that off because it’s necessary. Students are looking to cut usage on items 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 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.