Cooking with HEET

HOUGHTON – “One hundred nine,” said Melissa Davis, checking the Fahrenheit temperature inside the solar oven set up outside Houghton High School. The marshmallows in the oven hadn’t quite browned yet, but they were puffed to the max, and HHS senior Camille Clayton was armed with a graham cracker and ready for a taste test.

“It’s really hot,” she confirmed a few seconds later, wiping off stray globs of marshmallow.

Thursday was a dry run for the HHS National Honor Society students, who will be cooking up s’mores for the public on Thursday at the Houghton Energy Efficiency Team’s HEET Energy Show, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Dee Stadium.

The energy show will offer a variety of educational and cost-saving energy resources, while also giving residents the chance to become more involved in HEET’s low-income home winterization program, a key component in its effort to reduce energy use and win the $5 million Georgetown University Energy Prize for Houghton County.

“We have so many resources in this community that can help us all save energy and lower our utility bills,” Davis, HEET’s energy manager, said in a release. “Coming to the energy show is a great way to talk with the experts about becoming more energy efficient.”

The show will feature demonstrations and education on home winterization, along with the chance to sign up for hands-on workshops at New Power Tour’s Generations of Energy Efficiency model home.

Residents who are both Semco and UPPCO customers can sign up for free professional energy efficiency assessments, with free home energy scores and recommendations on how to improve efficiency, along with complimentary energy-saving devices like LED light bulbs.

UPPCO customers will also have the chance to get cash for recycling old, inefficient freezers, refrigerators, room air conditions and dehumidifiers. Check out page 3 for more details on the appliance recycling program.

Local energy leaders will also be on hand to talk about the latest developments in solar power, biomass heating, home insulation, 3-D printing and recycling.

A HEET Pedal-A-Watt electric-generating bike will be on hand as well, to show just how much physical energy it would take to power a home – or to raise the Portage Lake Lift Bridge.

Houghton 11th-grader Lindsay Sandell said the Honor Society would also be taking the bike to Fifth and Elm coffee shop for a future demonstration, and the students from the society and other HHS groups expected to continue volunteering in HEET’s efforts.

“Everyone in the group is really passionate about being green as a lifestyle,” Clayton said. “When we talk about what we’re doing and we’re passionate, it makes others get involved.”

“We’re the youth, the ones who are going to have to affect change,” said senior Finn Storer. “If lawmakers are doing nothing, we need to push them.”

HHS junior Ai Hui Yap noted that an environmental club started with about a dozen students this fall quickly ballooned to about five times that many. The school’s Key Club has also been active in efficiency efforts, said Honor Society advisor Ruth Ryynanen.

The solar ovens require only cardboard, foil, plastic wrap and a bit of insulation to make, and Storer said their construction offers lessons on conserving energy and saving fossil fuels.

“They could be used in a family setting for camping, and as a fun way for kids to learn about solar energy,” added Clayton.

The energy show is sponsored by Semco Energy, UPPCO, Michigan Tech Roteract, Efficiency UNITED and the City of Houghton. Attendees who register will be eligible for door prizes from Swift True Value, Festival Foods True Value and Ace of Calumet hardware stores.