Group educates community on energy saving practices

After a month of recruiting volunteers and meeting with campus and community leaders, the CSU chapter of the nationwide Energy Service Corps is ready to take its message of energy conservation to the citizens and youth of Fort Collins.

“We try to bring people very simple solutions to conserving energy,” said Program Coordinator Blaze Jones-Yellin. “There’s small things each person can do that collectively can have a huge impact with energy conservation.”

The organization has a two-pronged approach to make that happen. The first is speaking to students at schools with the goal of instilling lifelong energy conservation habits in the younger generation. The other is to go out in the community and perform energy efficiency surveys on homes and businesses.

Volunteers are able to identify energy saving strategies, offer advice and direct residents to state and federal resources that provide financial incentives for energy efficiency.

Some of the more common, easy to fix problems in most homes are the use of energy wasting incandescent light bulbs, improperly sealed doors and windows and energy draining power strips that still draw energy even when the appliances are off.

Using donated items, the group also provides materials like weatherproofing tape and caulking to residents.

Goals for this year are to speak to 5,000 kindergarten through 12th grade students and to help 500 residents weatherize their homes in the Fort Collins area.

“We want to have the same impact that the recycle movement had 40 years ago,” said ESC media intern and national resources senior Kelsi Grogan. “Everyone knows how to recycle now, and we want to educate people on easy ways to conserve energy that they’ll use the rest of their lives.”

Educating younger kids about ways to decrease energy use can have an impact for generations to come, Jones-Yellin said.

“We’re trying to build a movement, really,” he added. “If we can reach all these young people, the idea is they will grow into a generation of citizens who are more energy conscious.”

Last spring student volunteers from Energy Service Corps did a series of presentations at Oakwood Elementary school. Having CSU students acting as role models for good sustainability practices was “a lot of fun for the kids” said Oakwood teacher Gail Spinden.

“They had a lot of hands on activities for the kids and it went well with the energy curriculum we teach,” Spinden said. “I thought it was a great program.”

One of the myths of energy conservation is the belief that one person can’t make a difference, Jones-Yellin said. As the cost of energy rises each year and the burning of fossil fuels pollutes our environment, even an individual’s small efforts to conserve energy can have a huge impact collectively.

“People think it’s a big, complex issue,” Jones-Yellin said. “We want to change that. It not only benefits the climate to do these small things, but there’s financial benefits as well.”

Senior Reporter Austin Briggs can be reached at [email protected]