Quantifying Success: Factors Correlated With Energy Conservation in a K-12 Energy Contest Model
College of Natural Resources, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
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As the United States electric grid converts to clean energy sources like solar and wind, individuals can also help mitigate climate change through personal energy conservation behaviors. As a strategy to encourage energy conservation, energy contests that pit groups against each other have become common. Participants attempt to save the most of a particular resource (electricity, water, etc.) within a given timeframe, ideally establishing energy-saving habits in the process. Through connection with such a contest and personal electricity usage data via a dashboard platform, K-12 schools may be an ideal place to teach and practice energy conservation behaviors. This study used the Pearson’s correlation coefficient to explore the relationships between the energy actions taken by classrooms and the school’s electricity savings. Activities involving the interactive feedback of a dashboard, as well as traditional classroom lessons were most strongly correlated with electricity savings (r = .485, p = .002 and r = .469, p = .002, respectfully). This study also examined how the activities aligned with components of the Theory of Planned Behavior (attitude, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control) and how meeting the components might correlate with electricity savings via an independent samples t-test. Although such a relationship did not exist (t(38) = -0.768, p = .439), coding the actions highlighted the importance of providing detailed, goal-oriented descriptions for each of them. These results may provide insight for best practices for energy contests and other energy education endeavors such as adjusting motivation to participate in particular types of activities and/or fostering post-contest participant interaction.
Theory of Planned Behavior
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