Imagine you are in your final days of high school. Graduation day is fast approaching, and you have so many things to think about. Will you go to college? Will you move out and go to work? Will you do both?
For many young adults, these are basic things to ponder. They’ve spent 12 years in school learning math, English, social studies, science, and even a foreign language – all necessary subjects to make it in life, right?
According to the U.S. Department of Education, the unfortunate truth is that most high school students have likely only skimmed the surface of what they’ll face in the real world. They are going to need to know how to apply for a job, find a place to live, pay rent, and manage their utility expenses. The latter is not something that many of them thought about when they graduated high school, but will certainly learn about the hard way. That is, unless they were fortunate enough to have participated in a utility-sponsored energy education program during their primary or secondary learning.
Real World Lessons Taught in Energy Education Programs
Most people understand at some point in their lives that they will have to pay for energy in their home, but students who have been a part of an energy education program will know exactly where their dollars go. These students learn about how much energy the equipment and appliances in their home uses, and how to reduce the associated energy costs. These programs teach them about high-consumption appliances that most people take for granted, such as refrigerators and the water heaters.
Students can further benefit from energy education programs by learning about phantom or vampire loads and their effect on energy use. Students take a deep dive into important concepts like the water and energy nexus, and how saving water saves energy - both in their home as well as in their community. Additionally, students learn about the differences between energy efficiency, energy conservation, and peak demand savings.
Energy education programs not only teach students about energy use, but also help teachers, parents and guardians engage with their students and children in fun, interactive activities that teach lifelong lessons. It’s also likely that the parents and teachers will learn a thing or two about their own energy use!
Long-Lasting Benefits for Utilities
Energy education programs provide utility companies a unique opportunity to reach a large portion of their customer base with an important message about saving energy. While promoting the adoption of energy efficient practices and installations within their service territories, utility companies can take great strides towards achieving their energy and demand savings goals with a limited amount of effort. Above all, utilities can take customer engagement to a whole new level by connecting on a personal level with their customers of tomorrow. Teachers often report that their students get very excited to learn the conservation lessons taught through energy education programs.
Energy education in schools helps to prepare future ratepayers to become better equipped than the generations that have preceded them – those who had to learn the hard way about how to manage their utility expenses.
Ed.D: Education Director
Diane Sumner is a born educator. Since transitioning from the classroom to the boardroom, she has refined and helped develop educational content to support individual State Academic Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, and the global expectations of STEM. As Franklin Energy's Education Director, Diane represents the voice of participating and potential teachers and school districts across the country. Sumner received her Bachelor of Arts in History/Pre-Law with Minors in Spanish, English and ESL. After achieving a Master’s degree in Educational Administration and a second Master’s degree in Language Acquisition, she went on to receive an Education Doctorate in Higher Education Adult Learning.