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Students at five county schools learn how to turn off lights, turn on savings

In a time when every penny counts, it seems students at five county schools have discovered a new way to save green — by going green.
Participating in a pilot program offered by the Tennessee Valley Authority and Johnson City Power Board, students at Boones Creek Middle School, Fall Branch Elementary School, Gray Elementary School, Jonesborough Middle School and West View Elementary School are saving energy and money while getting a better understanding of energy efficiency.
“They are turning off banks of lights in classrooms on sunny days and turning all lights off for short periods of time as part of the energy-saving measures,” said Jolyn Newton, program manager for TVA Energy Efficiency Education and Outreach. “They are learning behavioral changes that will carry into their adult lives at home and at work. It’s amazing to see the enthusiasm the students are expressing for this hands-on learning project.”
Through the project, students have formed energy patrols to remind teachers and classmates to turn off lights, power strips, computers and other equipment when not being used. They also are learning how adjusting thermostats by just one or two degrees can save money and conserve energy.
Throughout the year, each school receives information on its monthly energy usage.
During the first quarter of the Green Schools program, which was launched at the start of the school year in August 2009, the schools saved a combined 43,577 kilowatt-hours, or $4,568 on their electric bills.
According to School Board Member Dallas Hardin the school system has seen a total savings of $32,000 from the efforts of the five schools involved in the program this school year.
“That’s real savings,” said Bill Brinkley, school board member. “That says a lot to be able to save that much just by turning off lights.”
To reward the students for their efforts, the school board recently approved a donation of $1,000 for each school that participated in the program.
According to Hardin, several of the schools have already committed to using that money to further its efforts in energy savings at the facilities.