3rd Grade Energy Czar Keeps Tabs at Wolcott Elementary

Students learning a lesson in conservation

Wolcott Elementary School's energy czar can't vote for a change in engery policy or drive a hybrid car yet, but the enterprising third-grader did save his school over $14,000 in energy costs.

Matt Cariseo was the driving force behind his West Hardford, Conn., school's win in the district's Conservation Challenge. 

Every school in the district competed for the top spot by trying to conserve as much energy as possible during the month of November.  Matt conducted audits of the school, looking for any place there was waste.

"We would kind of look at the lights in the hall, and if all of them were on, we'd shut half off," says Cariseo.  

Now he pops his head in doors looking for lights on in rooms that are empty. 

"No one's in there, and there's no purpose for the lights when nobody's in there," he said.

The district is using the challenge as an opportunity to teach students about the environment, conservation and economics. It's the latter that can make a difference with the district. In this year's challenge they saved $14,211.66 just in the month of November. If they could replicate that over the 10 months of the school year, the savings could close in on $150,000. 

"$150,000 means two teachers, that could preserve a portion of a program, that could reduce your class sizes," says Plato Karafelis, Principal at Wolcott Elementary. "There's no end to the ways that we could use $150,000."

Matt Cariseo is finding no end to the ways to save energy at his school. He says the first step is simple.  "Just turn out the lights."

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