CLAYTON — Students in one Clayton High School class now think twice about leaving the lights on. And they now understand the cost of staring in the refrigerator with the door wide open.
Last week, 26 students in Lauren Ramsey’s science class wrapped up a month of tracking their home energy use.
ElectriCities, which provides services to public power towns like Clayton, gave each a student a kilowatt meter to plug into appliances and electronic devices. The aim was to encourage students to conserve energy by showing them how much their homes consume.
Over the course of a month, students metered their refrigerators, toasters, cellphone chargers, computers and other power-hungry devices.
Freshman Hannah Miller was surprised by how much energy her laptop computer used. “My computer used up the most energy of the appliances I measured,” she said, adding that she plans to start turning it off when she’s not using it.
“My refrigerator used the most,” said another freshman, Emily Patton. She can’t unplug the refrigerator, but Patton will unplug the toaster, which used energy when not in use.
“Just because it’s not on doesn’t mean it’s not using electricity,” said freshman Grace Mills.
Learning to conserve
The students also tracked outside temperatures to see if their energy usage correlated with the weather.
Their hypothesis was that if it was hot outside, they would use more energy; when it was cooler, they would use less.
Phil Bisesi of ElectriCities told students that in summer, it takes more energy to cool down the house and to keep items in the refrigerator cool. Turning up the thermostat slightly when leaving the house can save energy, he said.
The ElectriCities program offered students real-world applications of the tracking, plotting and algorithms they are learning in the classroom.
Because Clayton is a public power town, when families save energy, Clayton does too because it has to buy less electricity from its supplier. That’s why the town reached out to the school through ElectriCities.
“I would like all of you to develop a conservation ethic,” Bisesi told the students last week.
Clayton Councilman Michael Grannis told the students he hoped they had learned how “we use energy and abuse it.” With the proliferation of electronic devices, from cellphones to tablets and computers, people today have more ways to use energy, he said.
Councilman Jason Thompson said the town can now use the data the students collected to share with the community. “One of the biggest complaints we get is that we have to spend so much on electricity,” he said.