Missouri State Parks Work to Save Energy

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COLUMBIA - As April marks the beginning of the camping season, Missouri State Parks are encouraging visitors to save energy.  The Camp Smart program is a green initiative to help conserve energy and save money.  

Energy is a significant cost to the Missouri State Parks and this program aims to get campers to do their part to conserve.  

According to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, electricity costs on average $1.80 per night per camping site.  Missouri has 85 state parks and historic sites, and half of those have campgrounds.  

The program started last week with decals on campground electrical posts that advise campers to:

-Turn the air conditioner thermostat to a higher temperature while enjoying the great outdoors. 

-Keep windows and doors closed when running the air conditioner.

-Run the refrigerator at 38 degrees. 

-Use the water heater only when necessary.

-Keep the shades down during the day. 

-Turn off the lights when away from the site. 

Air conditioners, refridgerators, and hot water heaters use the most electricity, said Renne Bungart, the spokesperson for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.  

Finger Lakes State Park got involved with the program a month ago and hopes for positive results, said Debbie Newby, Finger Lakes' park superintendent.  

Finger Lakes has 36 campsites and 17 of those are electrical sites. 

Steven Miller has been using campgrounds across the country for the past five years.  Miller, his wife Coral, their three-year-old daughter Faith, and one-year-old son Brett, have used many different campsites.  Miller said costs of the campsites vary, while some include electricity and others you have to pay for depending on your usage.  Miller said he has noticed an increase in these prices since he started camping.  

"A program like this (Camp Smart) is a great thing.  If we work together, we can conserve energy and keep the camping fees down too," Miller said.