School Ohana ‘Powered Down’

Kamiloiki Elementary School claims its $6,000 reward in the 2012 Hawaiian Electric Co. Home Energy Challenge, which included an additional $1,000 bonus for an energy calendar designed by the students. At the check presentation are (from left) HECO's Sam Nichols, Lynne Unemori and Kaiulani De Silva; Kamiloiki students, school coordinator Joanne Boyd and principal Susan Okano. Photo from Kristin Kauhane.

Kamiloiki Elementary School spent plenty of energy this past school year learning how to save energy.

And its efforts were rewarded by Hawaiian Electric Co. to the tune of $6,000 – for second place in energy savings on Oahu, plus an additional $1,000 check for sustained promotion of conservation.

Seven Oahu elementary schools vied for the most savings and the biggest prizes in the 2011-2012 Home Energy Challenge.

The students, staff and families of Kamiloiki all were involved, starting with the compiling of their cumulative average daily home electricity usage from October through March. Daily, weekly and monthly tips and reminders about how to save on that mounting HECO bill would arrive continuously during the six months of competition. The school took the award-winning step of making a 12-month calendar to keep everyone on task.

And it worked. The Kamiloiki ohana reduced usage by 14.5 percent, saving $20,000 in bills and more than 60,000 kilowatt hours of precious fuel. (It also took second place last year with a 6 percent cut in electric bills.)

Each month followed a new theme on the Hawaii Kai campus. A CFL bulb costume contest, “Get with the Swirl,” was popular for Halloween. In December – “Energy Monsters and Sneakers Month” – a survey was sent home to identify those appliances that drain energy even when they are turned off.

An energy-related drawing by second-grader Terence Kuan also won a classroom visit by Mad Science.

“In total, families and students from the seven participating schools reduced their home electricity use by a remarkable 301,000 kilowatt-hours and saved more than $99,500 on their bills,” said Kaiulani De Silva, HECO’s director of education and consumer affairs. “And that is only part of the story. All the classes were given access to education material and benefited from schoolwide conservation activities and projects. We hope the awareness will grow exponentially.”