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Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

The Thetford 350 Energy Challenge!

The Thetford Energy Committee is sponsored an Energy Challenge this fall. During the month of October, they encouraged kids to participate in energy-saving activities that can help your family save energy, get ready for winter, and reduce the amount of CO2 going into the atmosphere. The goal of the challenge is for Thetford as a community to do at least 350 activities that contribute to energy savings and lower carbon emissions.

Everyone knows that it’s good not to be wasteful–whether it’s wasting energy, resources, or money. Being energy efficient is a good way to save resources and money because your family doesn’t have to pay for energy you don’t use. SERG put together a list of projects you can do with or for your parents that will help save a small amount of energy and money, as well as reduce your family’s carbon output. If every one of us contributes to the effort, we can help make sure there are enough resources and energy for everyone–now and in the future.

So what do you need to do? It’s simple–just pick an activity from the list below, or come up with one of your own that saves energy. Check with your parents to make sure it’s okay with them before you do the activity.  Do as many activities as you can–the more you do, the more energy and money your family will save and the bigger your contribution to a healthy planet! Help us meet the Thetford 350 Energy Challenge!

Be an energy detective! Go around the house and find ways your family can save energy. If there’s no one in the room, turn out the light and turn off the radio or TV. Is the dishwasher set to no heat dry? What’s the sleep setting on your family’s computer—how quickly does it turn off when no one is using it? Does your family use power strips to shut down appliances that draw energy even when off? Are the storm windows down? Are the windows locked? Tight windows help keep the warm air in during the winter. If you can feel a draft around a window or door, let your parents know so they can put in weatherstripping and/or replace the caulk.

Make a list for your parents of any changes that could help your family save energy.

All ages

Rake leaves (instead of using a leaf blower) – even better, after you rake them up, compost the leaves. Composted leaves are great for your garden.
Kids tall enough to reach the clothesline

Hang laundry to dry on a clothesline or drying rack, instead of using the dryer.

All ages

Carpool, walk or bike to school, sports practice, or your friend’s house. If you take the school bus, walk to your bus stop instead of asking your parents to drive you.

All ages
Wash windows, especially on the south side of the house. Clean glass increases solar gain, which helps the sun warm your house. The more energy you get from the sun, the less you have to pay for. You can make your own environmentally friendly window cleaner with 1 part white vinegar to 5 parts water.

All ages
Help with recycling – you can sort recyclables, rinse plastic containers and glass jars, and help out your parents on Saturday morning at the recycling center. Look around your house – is there anything you aren’t already recycling that you could recycle, like cardboard toilet paper rolls or the cardboard in packaging? Recycling conserves resources and it saves your family money because it’s free to recycle in Thetford (throwing out trash costs money).

Kids who know how to wash dishes

Wash plastic produce and bulk bags for reuse. Even if you reuse each bag only once, you’ve reduced its impact on the earth by 50%. Extra bonus: Reusing bags saves money for the store or farmer, which helps keep food prices lower.

All ages
Sweep instead of using the vacuum cleaner if you have wood or tile floors in your house.
Grades 4 and up
Help your mom or dad clean the vent hose that leads from the dryer to the outdoors. If lint builds up in the dryer exhaust hose, it can take longer to dry your clothes, which uses more energy.  It’s also a fire safety hazard.

Grades 4 and up
Clean the refrigerator coils – dust and dirt make the refrigerator work harder to keep food cold, which takes more energy. The coils are usually located underneath the refrigerator and can be cleaned with a special long brush. Most manufacturers recommend you clean the coils every three months, but if you have pets with fur, you may have to clean more often. Remember to have an adult unplug the refrigerator before you clean the coils!

Grades 4 and up
If you have forced air heat, clean your heat vents and make sure they aren’t covered by rugs or furniture that block the  warm air from circulating. If you have baseboard hot water heat, clean your fin tubing. Dust and dirt reduce heating efficiency.  If your family heats with wood, help stack the woodpile or bring wood into the house.

Grades 4 and up

Get the vegetable garden ready for winter or dig a new garden bed so you’ll be ready to plant in the spring. Clear the bed of weeds, work in some compost, and cover with leaves or straw and your bed will be ready for planting when the weather warms up again. Food from the grocery store often travels hundreds or thousands of miles to the store. Homegrown food uses no energy to transport (and it tastes great too!)

Grades 4 and up
Make draft doggies – if you’re handy with a sewing machine, you can make a draft doggie to put at the base of drafty doors or across window sills. If your house is snug and tight with good weatherstripping and caulk, you can make draft doggies for the food shelf.
Questions? Comments? Contact the Alice Stewart of the Thetford Energy Committee by email:

If you run out of slips to report your activities, make your own (old schoolwork makes great scrap paper).

Why 350? Many scientists believe that we should bring the level of CO2in the atmosphere down to 350 parts per million to prevent the worst effects of climate change. Bill McKibben, a Scholar in Residence at Middlebury College in Vermont, is organizing a Global Work Party on 10/10/10 to draw attention to the 350 issue. You can learn more at

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