Watt Watchers of Texas: Texas is Too Good To Waste™

What is Watt Watchers?

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 school areas, 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 turned 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 of Texas 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.

Where is Watt Watchers Now?

To create this new, updated online version of Watt Watchers, the teams combed through three decades’ worth of archives and legacy materials. However, many of the lessons and activities lost relevance for the modern age, so the teams created new lessons from scratch. At the end of the process, in 2019, over 120 new standards-aligned lessons and activities had been developed for students from kindergarten through 12th grade.

In 2019, we have representation in at least 10 school districts across Texas with participants engaging with our lessons, activities, and resources. These school districts have over 100,000 combined elementary-aged students who are improving their understanding of the energy conservation effort, and why saving energy is important for everyone. We are also committed to making the resources and activities available for parents and families because we know that many students are currently attending school virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

In an effort to maintain connections with campus and to provide educators with additional resources for students and families to use during virtual learning, Watt Watchers of Texas now has an “At-Home” resource section, featuring learning activities especially suited for using at home so that students can continue their energy (and money) saving efforts in their own homes. All of our activities and lessons perfectly complement virtual learning so that students’ energy conservation education can continue without interruption.

When it is safe for students to return to the classroom, many schools across Texas will be ready to roll out the Watt Watchers program. Our team continues to connect with districts, teachers, and energy managers to encourage program adoption and usage, so that they can implement the program when campuses reopen. Additionally, our partners at KLRN PBS San Antonio continue to offer training and professional development for educators, and our partners at the National Wildlife Federation’s EcoSchools USA program continue to work with districts to help schools with their energy audit programs. 

Where Is Watt Watchers Headed for the Future?

At Watt Watchers of Texas, we know that energy conservation is a long-term endeavor that needs everyone’s participation. And, even though we’re the Watt Watchers of Texas, anyone, anywhere, can use our energy-saving resources and lessons. Our six modern energy themes are universal, so educators, administrators, and parents across the globe should feel welcome to explore all of our lessons, games, activities, videos, and everything else we offer to help save energy and money in their schools and at home.

Thanks to the support from our additional program sponsors Itron, Inc. and CPS Energy, the entire Watt Watchers program is now available in Spanish, which helps bring the program to more communities around the world.  Together, we can preserve our limited natural resources for generations to come. Contact Watt Watchers today to learn more about our program and how you can get started. 

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Watt Watchers of Texas is a Partner Program of Smart Energy Education.
Watt Watchers of Texas. Copyright © 2021 The University of Texas at Austin. All Rights Reserved.
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