JS students learn about energy efficiency

JERSEY SHORE — Students at the Jersey Shore Area High School attended an assembly recently to show them how they can help save money in their homes.

Representatives from the National Energy Foundation and PPL Electric Utilities presented a slide show to inform the students of ways their families can cut energy costs in their homes.

“We show them that energy efficiency is actually an equation, it takes technology plus our behavior such as turning off lights, washing clothes with cold water instead of hot and also taking shorter showers,” explained Mary-Ann Smeltz, a presenter at the assembly.

The presentation was put together by the district’s  “energy champion,” Heath Rager. Rager is the building and maintenance instructor at the high school .

“We started the continuous energy improvement program three years ago. I track and monitor the electrical uses at the schools. The program is to increase the student’s and teacher’s awareness of how to save electricity,” said Rager

The program has been a major success, not only for the schools but for  tax payers in Jersey Shore as well with $264,000 being saved on energy over the past three years, according to Rager.

The changes included switching to LED lighting, turning off computers over the weekend, eliminating refrigerators and microwaves in the teacher’s lounges and other energy saving steps.

Along with the slide presentation the presenters brought along 780 energy saving kits to distribute among the students.

Each kit included three LED light bulbs, a “smart” power strip, which according to Smeltz should be used on high end electronics like TV and computer systems, an energy efficient shower head and five minute shower timer.

The time it takes a teenager to take a shower can really eat up electricity according to Bob Penkala, another of the PP&L presenters.

“They can save money not only on their water bill but also on their heating bill,” explained Penkala,

“A five minute shower is roughly $8 per person for 20 showers compared to a 30 minute shower which costs about $48 for the same amount of showers, so parents are saving $40, on energy costs,” added Penkala.

Another way to save is to unplug phone chargers when you leave home according to Smeltz.

“Stand by power or “phantom load” is also covered in the presentation. We show how power is still present in a charger cord by using thermal imaging. It shows that you are using energy but not benefiting from the cost,” explained Smeltz.

The presenters even showed the students how to read an electric bill and how to keep track of their energy usage.

Along with the free energy kit the students can also win a Beats By Dre headset, a $175.00 value, by filling out an on line energy worksheet in their classroom. Teachers that get 80% of their students to participate can win a $75 mini grant as well.

The cost for everything, even the free kits is funded by PP&L according to Smeltz

Moreover, Smeltz explained how students or teams of students can also qualify to win a solar backpack by entering energy saving ideas to the NEF website.

“The backpack has a solar panel and an inverter built into it which will charge any I-Phone, or whatever, anywhere in the world,” said Smeltz.

The program is not only to make students aware of what they can do to save money at home for their families but also to prepare them for when they leave high school and enter the work place or head to college, according to Smeltz and Penkala.

“These students will soon be on their own and they will be getting an electric bill with their name on it and they will be responsible for that cost and hopefully they will remember what we are teaching them here today,” said Smeltz.

“When you go to college, that’s going to be part of your responsibility. Often times if you don’t live in a dorm you’re going to have to start paying your own bills,” added Penkala.