I’ve always said that it would be easier for me to make eco-friendly choices if these decisions had been part of my childhood, so I strive to include my children in recycling, energy efficiency and other environmental efforts in my house. Imagine my excitement to see that the federal government is launching a new program designed at educating today’s youth about the importance of energy efficiency – America’s Home Energy Education Challenge.

Secretary of Energy Steven Chu discussed the importance of this challenge last week: “Energy efficiency is all about helping families save money by saving energy. America’s Home Energy Education Challenge leverages the passion and curiosity of students to encourage families across the country to reduce energy waste in their homes while inspiring the next generation of American’s energy leaders.”

Source: DOE

Registration for the Home Energy Education Challenge opened on May 24 and registrations will be accepted through Sept. 30, 2011. The baseline period for the challenge is Sept. 1, 2010 through Dec. 31, 2010, and the actual challenge will take place this year from Sept. 1, 2011 through Dec. 31, 2011.

Students in third through eighth grade and their teachers will collect their home energy use data from the baseline period and work to reduce this usage during the challenge period. Students will be competing in 11 different national regions for their share of $102,000 in cash and prizes.

There are a few different rules for the challenge, including special provisions for home school groups. If you’re a teacher interested in learning more about the challenge, read through the contest rules first and then register for America’s Home Energy Education Challenge 2011.