CMS student teaches family to save energy |

CMS student teaches family to save energy

Cameron Burns
Special to the Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
Cameron Burns Special to the Post IndependentRuben Gomez, a seventh grade student at Carbondale Middle School, shows off his family's electric bill. Over the past two and a half years as a member of th school's Energy Club, he lowered his family's monthly bill from $194 to $57.

CARBONDALE, Colorado – When Ruben Gomez, a seventh-grade student at Carbondale Middle School, began going around his home, unplugging various devices at night and shutting doors and pulling shades to keep cool air in his home in the morning, his mother, Maria, and his father, Ruben, thought it was a little unusual.

But after seeing energy savings of as much as $138 a month, they’ve joined their son in these new household activities.

Ruben joined the Carbondale Middle School Energy Club, which was started two years ago by teacher Michael Logan, New Energy Technology (NET) and CLEER/Garfield Clean Energy.

Logan was unsure how interested Ruben was in energy issues, but after a parent-teacher conference in May, Logan learned how enthusiastic Ruben was about the topic of conserving energy.

In 2010, when Ruben joined the Energy Club, the Gomez family was spending nearly $200 a month on electricity. A January 2009 bill totaled $195.

Ruben started coming home and turning off or unplugging unused lights and appliances around the home.

“I would just walk around the house and unplug things,” Ruben said.

At first, his parents thought it was a little strange.

“They’d ask me what I was doing and why. I learned that energy is really important and to not waste it,” he said.

The Gomez family electric bill for January 2010 was $117 as a result of Ruben’s efforts.

In the spring of 2011, the energy club and staff at the middle school hosted an information session with students and handed out compact fluorescent light bulbs.

Ruben decided to get serious, Maria Gomez said, and urged his family switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs. When she asked her son why, his response was, “You’re going to save money,” Maria Gomez said.

The family’s January 2012 electric bill was $80.

By late spring 2012, the family’s electric bills were down to around $70 a month.

At the beginning of the summer of 2012, Ruben suggested to his parents that the family could cut energy use even further, and proposed that he keep whatever money the family saved below the $70 a month they were spending on electricity.

Ruben’s parents said OK, and he got to work finding more ways to save energy around the home. A boom box, the television, cell phone chargers, kitchen appliances, lights – anything that drew a current became the target of Ruben’s energy charge, so to speak.

“I used to leave the television on and he’d say, ‘Mom, you’re wasting energy,'” Maria Gomez said. “My son’s actions have also allowed me to save money in my water and gas bills. He makes me use cold water instead of hot water.”

As of mid-August, the Gomez family’s electric bills are down in the $57-a-month range. And Ruben is keeping the saved money.

Maria Gomez said she is supportive of Ruben’s newfound role around home.

“He takes the energy club really seriously,” she said. “He’s always telling me, ‘Mom, you’re not supposed to leave the lights on.’ I am so proud of him.”

The school’s energy club was started with support from the Garfield Clean Energy Community Initiative grant from the Department of Local Affairs and has continued with support from the Roaring Fork School District, CLEER, NET and teacher Michael Logan.

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