Schools join in “9-R Goes Dark” and measure energy savings for Earth Week

La Plata Electric Association (LPEA) partnered with the district to monitor the event and measure the energy savings, which was released to district and school leaders on April 27.

  • All 11 schools in the district participated.
  • 44.08 kWh was saved overall. Kilowatt-hour = is a measure of energy. The total amount of electricity used over time. For context, the average house in Durango uses 28 kWh in a day. So the energy saved by our schools in 15 minutes could have powered two houses for nearly a full day.
  • The school with the most energy and percentage of energy saved was Animas Valley with 24.32 kWh and 40.6% reduction.
  • If all schools were to replicate this event every day for a year for just 15 minutes, the savings would be $4,583.

A chart provided by LPEA shows the savings by school. LPEA staff tracked the usage just prior to “going dark” and the usage during the shut-off event so they could look at the savings for the difference. The energy savings for the event – and if they did that once a day for a month or a year – is also shown in the chart. If you scroll further, you’ll see usage charts for each individual school before and during the event, so each school can see their own results.

“It’s easy to forget to turn off a laptop or a lamp; but if everyone across all our schools forgets, that adds up to a big drain on our resources,” said Ron Reed, the district’s

Manager of Custodial Services and Green Team coordinator. “We hope this go-dark event helped enlighten students and staff about our daily habits.” 

Green Teams – student-led after-school sustainability clubs – supported the 9-R Goes Dark event at each of the district’s schools. The event aligns with the district’s 2023-25 Strategic Plan goals to provide sustainability education and earn a U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon designation.

Reed said the goal of 9-R Goes Dark was to mimic what students and staff can do at recess and the end of the day for energy savings. “Every little thing we do does add up to the bigger savings.”

When everyone participates and turns off what they don’t need, it can make a big difference – for the school, the electric coop, and the planet, said Emily Missildine, Energy Management Key Account Specialist at LPEA. “Great job to everyone for being a part of this collective effort!”

Here are 8 simple tips for staff and students to save energy and water at schools:

  1. Turn off lights when you leave the room – including decorative or task lights.
  2. Keep vents and radiators unobstructed and clean.
  3. Close doors and windows to keep heat in or out.
  4. Turn off computers, computer monitors, projectors, and printers when not in use.
  5. Open the blinds to let in natural light, and then turn off the classroom lights to save energy.
  6. Dress for the weather to avoid using energy-inefficient space heaters or AC units.
  7. Remove unnecessary, and often prohibited, appliances such as mini-fridges, microwaves, and heaters.
  8. Conserve water by turning off faucets when not needed, and reporting leaks immediately.
Photo: Bailey Taulli, a third-grader in Amanda Salkend's class, turns off a light at 2 p.m. at Florida Mesa Elementary School on April 25.