The main concept behind an energy audit is evaluating the energy use in a building to find the best way to reduce energy consumption and optimize savings. A proper audit can be complicated, especially if you are not a professional. However, the Fairview Net Zero Club has found that a simplified version may be just as effective in achieving the basic goal reducing energy use. We walked through Fairview High School and recorded the appliances and other electronic equipment in every single room. Using an electricity usage monitor, we measured the wattage of each device. In the end, we discovered wasteful uses of energy. For example, we counted a total of 51 refrigerators in the entire school. It gets worse. Most were empty and left running during the summer, some were from the 70s, and none were Energy Star rated.
Our proposed solution was to replace the 51 refrigerators with fourteen larger Energy Star refrigerators. We could pay for the new appliances with the energy savings in less than two years. Also, we invited the school district’s sustainability coordinator to join us for part of the audit. Partly as a result of our findings, she is coordinating an energy reduction challenge at fourteen of the district’s largest schools, getting employees to turn off appliances over breaks.
Overall, the process of walking through a building and identifying unnecessary uses of energy can be done anywhere—at home, at an office. Solutions to reduce energy use are often quite obvious and one doesn’t need to be an expert to figure out how to make your home or office more efficient.
Cindy Zou is a senior at Fairview High School and the Co-President of the Net Zero club. She is an IB Diploma candidate and plans on studying biological chemistry in college. Outside of school, she figure skates, and works as a tutor at Kumon Learning Center.