Watt Watchers of Texas is an energy efficiency program designed to help schools and families save energy and money. Founded in 1985 as The Watt Watchers of Texas, the original program focused primarily on student patrol groups assigned to areas of the school, checking for energy waste in the form of building lights. If students find lights on in empty rooms they would leave “tickets” and remind people to turn the lights off. Over the decades, Watt Watcher energy patrols have saved participating schools around Texas hundreds to thousands of dollars in energy costs each year.
In 1985, the Region IV Education Service Center in Houston was the site of the pilot program for Watt Watchers of Texas. Galveston ISD was one of the first districts to embrace the program within Region IV and they reduced their electric bill by $25,000 that year. The next year, through a contract with the University of Texas Permian Basin, a Watt Watchers program was implemented for West Texas. Their program expanded to include over 160 school districts throughout Texas by 1993. In 1997, Texas expanded the program to cover the entire state and divided the 254 counties between Watteam and Watt Watchers. Student patrols continued to look for lights on in empty classrooms and began to get involved in other projects to stop energy waste, save money and prevent pollution. In 2001, Watteam and Watt Watchers merged to form Watt Watchers of Texas. This allowed us to put all of our resources into helping students across the state.
By the spring of 2005, 3,156 teachers in over 550 school districts had enrolled in the Watt Watchers program. There were more than 760 teachers that had been doing the program for over five years. Thousands of students have watched watts, ticketed teachers, learned about conservation and energy efficiency, and thousands of dollars have been saved.
In 2018, Watt Watchers relaunched as an updated version of the original program, building upon the patrol program and related materials. The digital program design allows teachers to have easier access to materials. Additionally, the digital platform can continuously and seamlessly update and will help save material cost for districts. Designed to go deeper than just turning the lights off, students, teachers and families will now have the opportunity to learn about energy conservation and cost saving tips through modern, everyday categories, such as food, water, and transportation.
SECO administers and delivers a variety of energy efficiency and renewable programs which significantly impact energy cost and consumption in the institutional, industrial, transportation and residential sectors. Our site is designed to easily provide information to the public and the legislature about our programs and how they may be implemented throughout the state.
Created in response to the Arab oil embargo of 1973 and the resulting national energy crisis, the Texas “energy office” has evolved from its original function of responding to state fuel shortage emergencies and administering federal energy conservation grants to its current role as a statewide promoter of energy efficiency and provider of energy management services which have a positive impact on state energy expenditures and local property tax rates.
Beneficiaries of SECO’s services include state agencies, public schools, city and county governments, institutions of higher education, private industries, and residential energy consumers.
Originally known as the Governor’s Energy Advisory Council (1975), the State Energy Conservation Office has been housed in a number of state agencies and undergone several name changes. In 1999, the 76th Texas Legislature transferred the energy office to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. The primary funding source for SECO programs has been oil overcharge settlement dollars resulting from federal court settlements of alleged violations of price controls in effect for crude oil and refined petroleum products between 1973 and 1981. While the U.S. Department of Energy is the federal agency responsible for ensuring compliance with the court settlements, the state’s responsibility is to return these funds to the citizens of Texas through promoting and supporting energy efficiency and renewable energy programs according to state and federal guidelines.
SECO’s task is to enable Texans to enjoy the optimal benefit from the domestic energy we produce, to contribute to our state’s growing economy through reducing a major operational cost of state government, school districts, municipal governments, hospitals, and small businesses, to promote those technologies and procedures which result in cost effective operation, and to show individual Texas residents how an energy efficient ethic can enhance their quality of life and that of future Texans.