> Switch Off
Switch off and step outside
Would life really be so bad without electricity? Candlelit dinners, cooking by candlelight, reading by candlelight, finding your keys by candlelight, falling into the toilet in the middle of the night by candlelight … OK, electricity is pretty good. But (yes, of course there is a ‘but’) it’s not all good. Producing energy actually uses up valuable natural resources as well as creating greenhouse gases. These greenhouse gases are having a huge impact on our environment (we’re talking climate change).
The big energy users in schools are lights, electronics (such as computers, laptops and interactive whiteboards) and anything that does heating or cooling: heaters, air conditioners, water heaters and fridges. When switched on for up to eight hours a day, five days a week, that’s an incredible forty hours of energy zapping per item per week!
By simply switching off big energy users and stepping outside the classroom you can help save valuable resources, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save yourself money!
How To Do It
Take a walk around the room and see what things you can spot that use electricity/power. When you spot something, discuss the following:
- What does it do/why do we use it?
- Is it on or off and how do we know? (Get the children to look, listen and feel to help them decide.)
Quick tip: Make a list as you go around the room and record what things are on vs. off to give you an idea of what is switched on during a typical day.
Focusing on one item at a time, talk about what you could do instead of switching that item on (e.g. how could you keep cool/warm without turning on fans?)
Quick tip: Explore what they did in the olden days before power and/or take a look outside to see how things in nature stay cool or warm or use/deflect the sunlight.
Switch off and put your energy saving ideas into action.
If it’s hot outside you could:
- Place (re-used) wet cotton sheets over open windows to help cool the room
- Switch off lights and do more activities outside using natural light
- Make cardboard fans or find a shady spot outside to do your activities
- Take shoes and socks off and wear cooling neck scarves
If it’s cold outside you could:
- Have frequent short exercise sessions (inside and outside) to warm up, such as dancing, jumping or running on the spot
- Have story time under some blankets
- Ask children to check the room for droughts and block these droughts with old newspapers or scraps of fabric
Quick tip: Make switching off and getting outside part of your daily routine. See if you can increase the amount of time spent outside by the end of the week.
Whole centre tip
See how many groups/rooms at your centre you can get to switch off and step outside. Have a roster for different times of the day that each group switches off for and keep a tally for the whole centre.
What’s Our Impact?
To measure your energy savings try the following:
- Record the actions you take to help reduce energy and how long you switched off for.
- Compare the amount of time you were switched on before vs. after you took action and work out your saving.
In Australia 95% of electricity is produced from burning fossil fuels.
One third of the greenhouse gas emissions in Australia come from fossil fuel electricity generation.
Australians use approximately four times more energy per person than the world average.
Compact fluorescent light bulbs use 75% less energy than a regular bulb and last up to ten times longer.
A computer switched on for eight hours a day can generate over 600kg of greenhouse gases per year.
Ceiling fans are cheap to run and can be used for both heating and cooling.