Energy Resolutions For The New Year

Lynn Kistler   ·  SEA Teacher Advisory Council
December 16, 2021

The holiday season is in full swing and for many that means keeping family activities and events organized. My family usually comes to my house on Christmas day but this year we are planning to celebrate at my parents’ home. Traveling to put up a tree for them, I realized that I had forgotten the lights at my house. I calculated a quick analysis in my head, comparing the cost of fuel if I turned around versus the energy and resources used in manufacturing a new set of lights. After making some mental estimates, I decided to turn around, taking the nearest exit to circle back to my house for the lights. The tree eventually was decorated, looked great, and both Mom and Dad were very pleased. It will be a different holiday this year, but still rich with family memories and enjoying time together. 

Perhaps a bit premature, but I am also anticipating a fresh start in 2022. The new beginning has me organizing and making plans for the year ahead. This year I have resolved to stop procrastinating when it comes to grading papers and to stick to my budget! My local electric utility company installed new electric meters that have made it much easier to track electric usage. I can get detailed information reporting which days of the week and hours of the day that I use the most electricity. I receive a weekly email comparing my electric use with the previous week and an estimate for my upcoming bill. These new features certainly will make it easier to manage my budget and conserve electricity. 

I plan on sharing this information with my AP Environmental and Physics classes when we learn about energy conservation. Switch Classroom dedicates a full unit to Sustainability and Conservation that includes five lessons. The video in the Energy Efficiency lesson is one that always gets my students attention. Dr. Tinker pours a bottle of soda onto the floor and then takes a hammer to an iPod! It is so much fun hearing the students gasp when watching this one. The point of the video is that we should not be wasteful (like purchasing new holiday lights when you have some at home!) and that includes not wasting energy, reinforcing the concept that efficiency is an important component of the energy picture. 

Whatever else you resolve to do in the New Year, I hope you will join me in finding ways to reduce energy use. Switch Classroom can help you and your students learn more about how to lead a more sustainable and energy-conscious life. Here are some other lessons from the Sustainability and Conservation unit to help you and your students save energy in the coming year. 

  • Introduction to Environmental Issues: How will we manage the environmental impacts of energy use? While we are managing certain emissions to some degree, others require improvement. This lesson looks at where environmental impacts are rising and how we can continue to reduce them.
  • Smarter Energy Use: This lesson encourages students (and you!) to consider the benefits and challenges of conservation and energy. It also includes a great writing activity in which students establish a S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goal relating to personal and family energy use. 
  • Carbon Capture and Sequestration: Can we reduce our carbon dioxide emissions? Can we limit the amount of carbon dioxide released? This lesson explores the challenges of CCS, including safety, cost, and regulation. 
  • Transportation Alternatives: Despite a growing number of electric vehicles, we still rely on petroleum based fuels for our transportation needs. What are the options for transportation now and in the future?

The Classroom Blog will be taking a short break for the holidays, but we will back in January with more posts!

Best wishes for happy holidays and a healthy New Year. 

Lynn Kistler 
Chair Switch Energy Alliance Teacher Advisor Council 
Upper St. Clair High School, Pittsburgh, PA 
Science Teacher: Environmental Science, Physics, Chemistry

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