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School Detectives Investigate Safer Energy Savers

School Detectives Investigate Safer Energy Saving Bulbs

Students nationwide have become Energy Saver Detectives as part of a programme that links "learning with earning" by giving students the tools to investigate how to save electricity in the home.

Initially released in conjunction with the Department of Conservation's Conservation Week on August 7 the Energy Saver Detectives programme involves students learning about energy saving at the same time as they earn money for their school.

Energy Smart Schools Trust Chairman Dean Coleman says the programme educates and promotes, among other things, the installation of a "new generation" of safer energy saving bulbs that will help alleviate some issues that New Zealand currently faces.

The Government has already identified there's a big problem for all New Zealanders, with not enough power being produced to keep up with our nation's growing demands, and it realises something needs to be done about it.

If every house changed just six of the most commonly used light bulbs, it could in fact save enough power to supply towns the size of both Hamilton and Dunedin combined.

He also states that "although installing "Smart Packs" of six bulbs is mentioned in calculations, most people are installing at least 12 to 18 of the new safety bulbs and some people have purchased up toward 100 bulbs."

The Trust has made resources available free of charge to schools. These include teaching guides and student handbooks. Students can use the material to identify the bulbs needed and work out how much energy can be saved in their own homes by swapping bulbs.

Coleman says the Trust chose Marexim Safety Energy Saver bulbs because they look the same, act the same, and are the same size as the normal light bulbs we are all familiar with. The big difference is they can reduce the electricity used on lighting by up to 85%, last about 15 times longer than normal bulbs, and they are cooler if touched.

The programme was developed using research, knowledge and experience from UK and the USA as well as localised information from bodies such as the Electricity Commission and is strongly linked to New Zealand education's teaching curriculum.

Marlborough Girls College teacher Libby Skilton says the programme has been a major success since it launched and they will definitely be implementing the programme on a longer term basis.

"We formed an Environment Council here at school this year and this seemed like the perfect fundraising idea because it involves looking towards future sustainability for our community and country. It was a very easy fundraiser to run, and the student workbook has been a success."

Skilton believes the programme has made the students think about the future and what may happen if we continue on as we are and don't have any accountability for how much power we consume.

"It's something our girls can learn from; not just an easy way to earn money. Some plans for using the funds are either starting a native tree forest or the girls are talking about developing a 'heart of the school'. The girls want somewhere that's nice to sit, it's green, it's looked after by the students and is a focal point of the school."

Coleman says the real beauty of the Marexim Safety Energy Saver bulbs is they can pay for themselves in less than four months, and a "Smart Pack" of six bulbs could save a household $1100 over their useful life.

The bulbs are being sold through schools with $5 per "Smart Pack" going back to the school. The programme is supported by and has been commended by the Department of Conservation, Enviroschools, the Ministry of Education's Sustainability team and the Royal Society of New Zealand.

"It's been commended for what it achieves; educating children and their families on one of the problems we all need to do something about today and then providing the tools so that every single one of us can do our part."


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