A new program is turning some middle and high school students in the Reno area into energy detectives. They are on a mission to solve the case of wasted energy and save their schools some money.
David Crowther is the executive director of the Raggio Research Center for STEM Education at the University of Nevada, Reno, and is in charge of Project ReCharge. He says it uses a new energy monitoring software that allows students and teachers to track electricity use throughout their schools.
“Like when a compressor turns on, or if I plug a coffee pot into one of the monitored classrooms,” says Crowther.
“They can actually see what is the energy consumption that’s going on at the school.”
Crowther says Project ReCharge is made possible by a $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation. The project is now at O’Brien Middle School and Reed High School, but is expected to spread to 10 schools in the next couple of years.
Crowther says students and teachers will conduct energy audits and provide cost saving recommendations to Washoe County School District facility managers and administrators. He says the test-trial, which won the project’s grant, involved locating an air conditioner that would not shut off and was costing the school a small fortune in wasted energy.
“Then when we extrapolated the amount of energy that it was consuming after it had been turned off, we could then calculate that it would save that school about $15,000 a year,” he says.
Crowther says the goal of saving each of the 10 schools 10 percent on its electric bill should be easily achieved, and could add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.