> Switch Off
Switch off the 'big three' 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
Focus on the big three energy zappers:
- Heating and cooling
Brainstorm ways to reduce the school’s energy use, focusing on these questions:
How can you stay cool/warm without using the heating/cooling? For example:
- Dress for the weather: wear lighter clothes when it’s hot and layer up when it’s cold
- Take your class outside and find a shady tree to learn under
- Switch off and get outside for some physical activity
- Make a fan out of recycled materials or natural things collected from the school grounds (sticks, leaves, bark etc.)
Can you work without turning on the lights? What could you use/do instead? For example:
- Make use of natural sunlight and hold an outdoor class
- Use solar lamps when sunlight is low; head outside to find the perfect sunny spot to set up a charging station
Do you need a computer or interactive whiteboard to do your work?
- Power down and embrace pencil and paper, chalkboards and whiteboards
- Carry your work or wheel the whiteboard outside for an outdoor lesson
Quick tip: Make switching off and getting outside part of your daily routine and see if you can increase your time outside by the end of the week/term.
Whole School tip
See how many classrooms you can get on board with switching off and stepping outside. Have a roster for different times of the day or days of the week that classes switch off; or why not try to get all classes to switch off and step outside for a whole day of outdoor learning!
What’s Our Impact?
To measure your energy savings you can do the following:
- Use a power monitor that gives you a daily/weekly reading
- Keep a list of what energy zappers you’ve ‘switched off’ and how many hours per day you spent outside – tally this to get a weekly or term total.
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.