Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Kids in US may lead way to conserve energy at home

A group of US kids who participated in an intervention program and their parents have reported increases in energy-saving behaviors, such as turning off power strips at night and washing clothes in cold water.

The kids of 30 Girl Scout troops in northern California were in the program known as Girls Learning Environment and Energy, or GLEE, and were offered two interventions designed to promote energy-saving behaviors either at home or in food and transportation decisions.

Using a randomized control trial, the 318 girls, all fourth- and fifth-graders, were randomly assigned to one of the interventions, which were developed by researchers from Oregon State University and Stanford University. And the results were in a study published Monday in the journal Nature Energy.

In 50- to 60-minute lessons once a week for five weeks, the Girl Scouts learned about different ways to save energy in their assigned intervention group and participated in activities designed to support the lessons.

The girls and their parents completed surveys about their energy-saving behaviors at the beginning and end of the five-week program and again several months later.

"The goal of the program was to get the girls actively practicing and mastering the skills, and modeling the behaviors that would lead to reduced energy use," said Hilary Boudet, an assistant professor of climate change and energy at Oregon State University and lead author of the study.

The researchers found that the increased energy-saving behavior, as self-reported by the children, continued for more than seven months after the trial program ended, and that the intervention had an effect on parents' energy-saving behavior for more than eight months, suggesting that these kinds of educational programs could have a significant and lasting impact on family energy consumption.

"Children are a critical audience for environmental programs, because their current behavior likely predicts future behavior," Boudet said.

"By adopting energy-saving behaviors now and engaging family and community members in such efforts, children can play an important role in bringing about a more sustainable future."

The study's authors estimate that the reported behavior changes associated with the home energy savings intervention represent an annual household energy savings of 3-5 percent immediately following the intervention and 1-3 percent at follow-up.

Girls in the food and transportation intervention also reported a significant increase in energy-saving behavior at the end of the program, but there was no significant change noted at the seven-month follow-up or among parents.

Boudet said the food and transportation program may have proved more challenging for the children, in part, because they have less control over the types of transportation used by their families or the types of food their families buy and eat.

Based on GLEE's initial success, researchers are working to disseminate the curriculum to Girl Scout leaders around the United States.
 [Xinhua -globaltimes.cn]

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