The Importance of Energy Education

The Importance of Energy Education

Designed by educators, K-12 energy literacy programs from the National Energy Foundation (NEF) reach families through the most influential family member: the student. NEF’s K-12 education programs support a utility’s efforts to reach engagement and savings goals through awareness education, a school-to-home approach, and a students’ influence on family energy decisions.

Education can change behavior by focusing on increased awareness and skill development. NEF provides a “real-world” application of energy in the students’ lives while giving them actionable steps to make energy-wise choices. Specifically, this is done by tailoring our programs to different grade levels and geographical regions, meeting students where they are. Through our 2018 National Energy Literacy Survey, we discovered specific gaps in energy knowledge. Only 27 percent of students could correctly identify coal, natural gas, and nuclear as the primary sources of electricity. Only 53 percent knew electric vehicles use electricity from the local fuel mix, not just renewables. Although students may have knowledge gaps, most want to learn and do more as it relates to energy.  NEF programs educate students on a wide range of energy topics and encourage them to take action regarding energy use.

Creating Impact Through Education

Teaching about electrical generation, local fuel mix and the smart grid in this way empowers students to become energy champions, sharing what they’ve learned with their families. This is known as a school-to-home approach. A 2017 study found about 88 percent of parents said their children are the primary source of information for sustainability topics. Instilling knowledge and providing a school-to-home connection through take-home kits, online forms and video challenges ensures students will bring the message into their homes. And when energy literacy messages reach the household, real change happens within communities. So it makes sense that educating students on the facts about electric vehicles is a step toward accelerating EV adoption.

Forty-five percent of parents with children aged 12-17 stated their kids influence which vehicle to purchase. We know that teens play a role in the car-buying process. We understand that students are excited for, and passionate about understanding the role energy plays in the future. So, we designed our new electric vehicle education program, rEV, specifically for these secondary students. 7-12th grade students are also first-time and soon-to-be drivers. Middle and high-school students are also likely to resonate with the environmental benefits of EVs as they are sustainability advocates.

Providing energy literacy programs to K-12 students serves the utility’s engagement and savings goals because of their direct impact on family decisions, the effectiveness of the school-to-home connection and the validity of awareness education. Interested in learning more about NEF’s cutting-edge energy education programs like rEV? Request your own introduction packet.

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