01/21/14: Jennifer Alldredge

Best Practices: Taking Energy Hog Tag to a New Level

How do you encourage both writing and saving energy?  Green Magnet (Tennessee) has the solution.

Energy Hog tag has inspired many students to monitor their school's energy consumption.  There are numerous ways to play, from tagging classrooms caught leaving on lights and/or computers to using the Energy Hog picture as a "hot potato."

PowerSave Schools is always about empowering the students, and that's just how Green Magnet opted to play Energy Hog Tag this year.

Since September 2013, students have been empowered not only to monitor their school's energy consumption, but those in grades 3-5 now have permission to actually turn off lights and certain plug loads, including computers not actively in use.  Instead of policing which classrooms are either doing well (reducing energy) or not (leaving lights and plug loads on) and charting the classroom energy use, the Energy Hog Buster students are highlighted instead. 

Here's how this works: while going about their daily routine, students watch for three specific energy hogs: doors and windows left open, computers left on, and, of course, lights on in unoccupied areas. Students also watch for opportunities in their classrooms to reduce lighting by half or just use natural light and turn all overhead lights off. If a student's efforts to reduce energy is witnessed by an adult (teacher, custodian, staff) the student’s name gets put on a chart kept in a prominent location in the school. At the end of the year every student on the list will be invited to a special Energy Hog Busters-only “dance party in the dark” where they will receive glow-in-the-dark prizes, be eligible for additional prizes, and get to dance with the Energy Hog.

Danielle Harrison, lead teacher (Design Lab), added that the students must write one or more complete sentences about the circumstances under which they saved energy (which an adult witness must sign). This not only helps with logistics, but also encourages the students to improve their skills.

When asked how this new game was going, Ms. Harrison stated that these changes have reinvigorated Energy Hog Tag, "The new strategy is going well. The students are very excited and turn off lights all over the place. I did have some issues managing it since all of the reporting was done through me, so I had to alter the plan a little bit. Now the students must write about turning off lights in a complete sentence and get the adult witness to sign their paper before I will put them on the chart. This has helped me keep up with the reports as well as reinforce writing skills." By keeping the privilege of turning off lights and plug loads to the upper elementary students, the younger students see this as something they'll get to do later on--and keep the school's energy efficiency goals a sustainable best practice.