Appalachian Power's Eco-Stewards program aims to educate students about energy and resource efficiency

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Today’s conversations between parents and their teenagers about energy efficiency rarely get beyond reminding kids, "Turn off the lights," "Take shorter showers," or "Recycle that." Appalachian Power hopes to ramp up the talk and interactions to save energy and other natural resources in homes this fall with a new energy efficiency program aimed at high schools students and involving their parents.

Called Eco-Stewards®, this interactive program engages high school students in performing a LifeStyle Analysis on their home to see their home's energy and natural resource use or carbon footprint. Eco-Stewards goes beyond just energy consumption to also evaluate water use, transportation, recycling and other conservation assessments of their home's structure, appliances, and how it is operated, said Jeri Matheney, Appalachian Power spokesperson.

"We've offered energy assessments to homeowners, energy education programs to young schoolchildren, and numerous other residential and commercial energy efficiency programs for years," Matheney said. "With Eco-Stewards, we are working to engage our young adults in the conversation about energy and resource efficiency and encourage environmental stewardship now and after they graduate high school.”

Using the same techniques professional energy auditors employ to perform walk-thru home audits, students learn to identify different types of energy-using equipment, how to assess their home’s envelope, and see the effect behavior, such as adjusting thermostat settings can make.  In performing the assessment, students experience a profession in the energy or home improvement industry that can help them when it comes time to choose a career.

Data students collects on paper is reviewed by parents and teachers then put into a sophisticated online calculator that runs a comprehensive analysis of the home and outputs a detailed report.  Students are presented with no-cost, low-cost and longer-term energy and resource conservation measures for use by the whole family.

Already, the Regional Education Service Agency(RESA) 3 in West Virginia, jumped in to help bring the program to schools in  Kanawha County by co-hosting an Eco-Stewards training program with Appalachian Power for teachers this summer.

"We're always looking for programs that are relevant, have high learning value, and offer hands-on opportunities for learning," said Mike Carte, the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) coordinator for RESA3. "Eco-Stewards fits that criteria, plus it exposes students to the concept of working in the field of energy and our environment. We are hopeful that the program’s introduction in Kanawha County will be successful and lead to the expansion into surrounding counties so we can help more students.”

Appalachian Power is furnishing schools with everything needed to incorporate the Eco-Stewards lesson into their existing curriculum plans, including teacher guides, class PowerPoint presentations, Lifestyle Analysis booklets and the online home energy calculator on the utility's EcoStewards portal.

For more information or if your school would like to participate, contact Mike Carte, STEM coordinator for RESA 3, at 304-766-7655, extension 168, or mtcarte@resa3.k12.wv.us.

Appalachian Power has 1 million customers in Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee (as AEP Appalachian Power). It is a unit of American Electric Power, one of the largest electric utilities in the United States, which delivers electricity to more than 5 million customers in 11 states. AEP ranks among the nation’s largest generators of electricity, owning nearly 38,000 megawatts of generating capacity in the U.S. AEP also owns the nation’s largest electricity transmission system, a nearly 39,000-mile network that includes more 765 kilovolt extra-high voltage transmission lines than all other U.S. transmission systems combined.

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