- Thursday, April 18th, 7 p.m.: What’s Up With the Weather at Edina High School. I will be handing out hugs and free Tolby goodies during the resource fair at 7 p.m.! Anyone can attend so I hope to see you there!
- Saturday April 20th : Girls Excel in Math year-end event. I am lucky enough to walk around and say hi to a bunch of super smart 4th grade girls. Maybe they can help me with my counting skills- it is hard to count correctly when you only have 8 fingers!
- Monday (EARTH DAY!) April 22nd: I will be visiting the 1st graders at Rum River Elementary in Andover. This will be a perfect way to spend Earth Day!
- I will also be announcing the winner of the coloring contest on Monday morning!
Lots to look forward to. If I don’t see you around town, happy Earth Day!
Bethel Lutheran Church in Northfield has been involved with the Energy Challenge since the launch in 2006. This winter Bethel invited Tolby to come and visit their after school program to kick start their team again. Their organizer Connie, graciously agreed share their experience with the Energy Challenge through the years.
Emma: What made you interested in the Minnesota Energy Challenge?
Connie: Bethel was fortunate to host one of the Will Steger events, “Eyewitness to Global Warming”. Bethel formed a Creation Care Team soon after that presentation. About a year later , the Minnesota Energy Challenge was begun, and we were on board right away.
Emma: Why did you bring the Energy Challenge to Bethel?
Connie: The Minnesota Energy Challenge provides a way for individual members to be a part of working responsibly on their use of energy. Working individually and as a congregation to care for the Earth is one of the Bethel vision goals, so the Energy Challenge is a match for this goal.
Emma: What responses have you received from the members of your church?
Connie: The Creation Care Team sponsors sign-up Sundays two or three times a year. We also provide education through small articles in our monthly church newsletter.
This year Tolby & Emma made a visit to our congregation’s Wednesday after school program and it was a big hit. Many parents have commented on how excited and engaged their children are about turning off the lights and more. Our Children’s Ministries Director planned curriculum for a Sunday following the presentation that focused on energy use. The Creation Care Team provided follow-up about Tolby during opening and closing exercises of Sunday School.
Emma: What Changes have you made in your own life?
Connie: We have implemented many of the changes suggested by the Minnesota Energy Challenge, including replacing all light bulbs with CFLs, turning down the thermostat 8 degrees at night, turning down the water heater to 120 degrees, running our air conditioner as little as possible, composting, recycling and reusing. There are more changes we can make. Being a diligent steward of the Earth requires daily choices.
Hello all you community-loving, bike-loving, Twin Cities-loving people out there. I have great news! The Department of Transportation decided to hold a bike safety summit in Minneapolis. At this event Minneapolis Mayer R.T. Rybak will speak on the efforts Minneapolis has taken to improve bike safety, experts in the industry will comment on the bike safety situation in Minneapolis, and community members will get a chance to speak on the issue.
After all, whether you’re driving a tractor-trailer, sitting in the back seat of a minivan, or pedaling a bike, the road safety you enjoy shouldn’t depend on the number of wheels you’re riding on.
This is a prime opportunity to learn and talk about bike safety issues and solutions around the Twin Cities. Along with this, the ideas and issues brought up at this summit will influence bike transportation initiatives throughout the country. The summit is free and takes place on Monday April 29th. More details on place and time to come. Pre-register here.
An important part of understanding energy is understanding how we measure it. British thermal unit (Btu) is one of the main measurements of energy. Btu is a common measurement of how much energy is in a source of fuel, similar to the number of calories in different foods.
Technical definition: British thermal unit is the amount of heat requited to raise a pound of liquid water one degree Fahrenheit. This doesn’t mean much to most of us, so I’ll give you some perspective in our everyday life we can compare 1 Btu to the amount of energy released from lighting one match.
How we use Btu: It is very difficult to compare the prices of a short ton of coal vs. a barrel of oil. Since Btu is a common measurement of energy we can convert different energy sources to Btu and compare prices per energy content. Below is a table showing how the price comparison would work, taken from U.S. Energy Information Association.
|Price||Btu (Energy Content)||$/Million Btu|
|Coal||$44.64 per ton||21 million per short ton||$2.13|
|Oil||$56.35 per barrel||6 million per barrel||$9.39|
|Natural Gas||$5.27 per Tcf||1 million per Tcf||$5.27|
This table clearly shows, that coal is the cheapest source of energy, which is a big factor for states when they consider their main fuel sources.
I will leave it at that for now. If you are interested in knowing MORE about Btu click here.
SCORE! Another success story to show the positive impact energy conservation can have on communities. The best part is this program didn’t involve investing in new heating systems in order to save a million dollars. It was based heavily on simple behavior changes:
Several energy specialists were quick to point out that while they work with some technology, the program is really very people based.
Much of the energy specialist’s work involves getting teachers and other staff on board with watching their energy use and doing that little bit of extra work before they head home.
This program took place at Elkhart Community Schools in Indiana, with the help of Centergistic- an energy conservation company in the area. As the quote shows above, much of the program relied on a little more work from teachers. Teachers were asked to do just four things before they left for the day: close window blinds, keep doors closed and shut off all electronics and turn off all lights. Doesn’t sound like much, but when it costs $87 to run one computer all year, it can quickly add up to significant savings.
I love this story because it proves that schools and communities don’t necessarily need to do large structural investments to conserve energy. There are still significant gains to be made through simple actions alone. This doesn’t mean it is simple or easy to get people to participate in these actions. It takes motivated individuals to push and make this happen!
Want to get this kind of action started in your school or community? The Minnesota Energy Challenge is always a simple and fun way to start!
When water comes into your house it is cold. To get hot water it has to be heated up by your water heater. Below is a picture of the inside of an electric water heater. Inside it has a piece of metal that gets really hot and heats up the water. Water heaters can use either electricity OR gas to heat the water.
Most important, the more hot water you use, the more electricity you use. So how can you help use less electricity? Use less hot water! Two great ways to save hot water:
Every year the World Wildlife Fund puts on an event called Earth Hour,
Earth Hour is the single, largest, symbolic mass participation event in the world. Born out of a hope that we could mobilize people to take action on climate change, Earth Hour now inspires a global community of millions of people in 7,001 cities and towns across 152 countries and territories to switch lights off for an hour as a massive show of concern for the environment. -Earth Hour Website
To get involved:
Sign up : Pledge to turn off your lights tomorrow, Saturday March 23rd from 8:30 to 9:30. A simple way to show your dedication to the earth.
Set a reminder: Last year I signed up for Earth Hour and, dare I say it, FORGOT! This year I am setting an alarm on my phone to remind me an hour before so I can get my candles out!
Take it to the next level: All of you are experts at reducing electricity use. So don’t just turn off the lights, turn all electronics off. Read or play a board game by candlelight, or play hide and seek in the dark!
More ways to save electricity at Minnesota Energy Challenge