In Concert with the Environment®
In Concert With The Environment® is an educational program that forges a link between energy use and the environment and has been primarily used for high school students. Developed by EcoGroup of Tempe, Arizona, the program is customized for each sponsor and is now being used by 25 utilities in 17 states for well over 130,000 students creating a win-win situation for sponsoring utilities and their customers.
The program is quite simple as students take home a detailed questionnaire about their home energy consumption, water use, recycling habits, and transportation patterns. The survey probes at energy use by engaging students and their parents in details such as the number, ages, and models of appliances they have in their homes. Back at school students then input the results of the survey into user-friendly software. The sponsoring utility provides full computer services that allow the students to immediately print out a home energy profile and an Action Plan to gather EcoWatt® Benefits, EcoGroup’s term for the environmental advantages of energy efficiency.
The survey provides utilities with a clear indication of baseline energy use in their service territories along with a tremendous amount of data about household characteristics typically not collected by utilities. This information can then be used by utilities to design or refine other energy efficiency programs. Note also that In Concert With The Environment can effectively "prime the pump" for later programs, as awareness of energy efficiency is raised through this innovative classroom connection!
After analyzing their data in class, students then take home action plans for their homes. The plan lists the relative costs and benefits of a variety of recommended measures so that families can decide how to proceed. In some cases utilities have coupled the awareness building initiative with free energy efficiency starter kits complete with such items as compact fluorescent lamps, faucet aerators, and high performance shower heads. In other cases, utilities provide information on their DSM programs and incentives to accompany the action plans that students take home.
While investing in tomorrow’s energy consumers inherently makes sense, utilities have been reluctant to pay the costs associated with such efforts. In Concert With The Environment affords utilities an opportunity to prudently invest in a program carefully designed to capture short-term efficiency upgrades through specific action steps, and long-term value changes through cleverly-designed curricula.
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