Students from Carter County in Montana are the national winners of America's Home Energy Education Challenge. The team saved an average of 143 kilowatt hours per house... Enough to power a TV and Xbox 360 for 846 hours!

What if you could operate a TV and an Xbox 360 for 35 days without increasing your electricity bill?

One group of Montana students did just that as part of America’s Home Energy Education Challenge -- a new initiative launched by the Energy Department and led by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) that encourages student involvement in reducing home energy waste and lowering utility costs in their homes. During the first year of the competition, participants worked to reduce their families’ energy bills and conserve energy. Montana's Carter County schools were one of many teams of elementary and middle school students across the country that got involved in the competition. 

The goal of the challenge was simple: to leverage the creativity and enthusiasm of students to inspire families to save energy and save money. Students from schools across the country competed in the challenge by coming up with ways to use energy more efficiently in their homes.

Today, Energy Secretary Chu was joined by Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer to announce the winners of the first year’s competition – a team of five schools in rural Carter County, Montana.

The winners were able to save an average 143 kilowatt hours per house -- enough energy to power a TV and Xbox 360 for 846 hours! 

The winning Montana team included students from five schools in Carter County: Alzeda Elementary School, Carter County High School, Ekalaka Elementary School (K-8th grade), Hammond School (K-8th grade) and Hawks Home School. Their efforts included a significant focus on involving the community and educating students and families, and engaged a representative from the Southeast Electric Cooperative (a local electricity provider) to participate and provide trainings for each of the schools. Students spoke with their family members about simple, energy-saving steps they could take, including turning off the lights when leaving the room, running the laundry machine with cooler water and full loads, and in an agricultural community, using timers to set charging times for tractors.

The five schools will share the $15,000 in prize money won as both a regional winner and as the national champion.

The Challenge also included regional, climate-based competitions, winners of which then competed in a national competition where they were evaluated based on their energy savings plans, energy savings, level of student participation, community involvement and creativity.  

The four regional winners each received $5,000 and include the following teams:

  • Bell Middle School from Golden, Colorado
  • West Carter Middle School from Olive Hill, Kentucky
  • Cold Spring Elementary School from Potomac, Maryland
  • Siersma Elementary School from Warren, Michigan

Another component of the Competition included a poster design contest, which encouraged students to find artistic ways to encourage their communities to improve home energy efficiency. Estes Park Middle School in Estes Park, Colorado received $1,000 as the National Poster Winner for visually demonstrating simple, inexpensive ways to reduce energy usage and save money. See more of the posters in the America’s Home Energy Education Challenge slideshow.