Earth Day Every Day

There are a lot of ways that you and your family can save water and energy around your home.


The faucets in your kitchen and bathroom sinks account for 16% of your total water use. Installing low-flow faucet aerators is easy, inexpensive and can save up to 2,000 gallons of water per year.


Silent leaks let water and money go down the drain. More than 10% of your water bill could be the result of leaks. Check your house to see if you can find leaks.

Shower head


Installing a new showerhead is a good idea if your home has an older model. Remember that you can save more than 2 gallons of water for every minute you reduce your shower time.

Water Heater

Your water heater is the second biggest energy consumer in your home. Turning it back to 120° will save energy and protect people from getting scalded.



If you’re living in a house that was built more than 10 years ago, your toilets may be your biggest water user. If a family of four replaces all their old toilets, they can cut their water use in half.



If you run a full load of dishes in your dishwasher, you should save water compared to washing the same dishes by hand. High-efficiency dishwashers that use less water and energy are available.

Rain barrel

Rain Barrels

Collecting rainwater in a rain barrel is a natural way to water your plants. Rainwater is free and is not chlorinated, so plants grow better. With a rain barrel, you can conserve drinking water rather than using it to water your plants.

Clothes Washer

Clothes washers are the second biggest water user in your home. An Energy Star®-rated washer can use 30%-50% less water and 50% less energy for every load.

Clothes washer
Water usage pie chart

What uses the most water?

Look at the graph on the left to determine what uses the most water in your home.

Solar energy is a natural. Solar energy, or sunlight, can be used to generate electircity, provide hot water and heat, cool and light buildings.

Passive Solar

No mechanical devices are used in passive solar heating. Buildings designed for passive solar heating often have large windows that face south to absorb as much sunlight as possible. They might also use building materials that absorb and slowly release the sun’s heat. Passive solar designs can reduce heating bills by up to 50%.

Photovoltaic (solar cells)

Photovoltaic cells turn sunlight directly into electricity. The simplest cells might power your watch or calculator. To power a building, many cells are combined into a system or array.

Concentrating Solar Power

Some power plants use a concentrating solar power system. The sun’s energy is concentrated in one area using mirrors. This creates a lot of heat. The heat produces steam used to run a generator that creates electricity.

Solar Hot Water

Solar water heaters use the sun to heat water that flows through a panel that faces the sun. These systems can reduce the need for conventional water heating by two-thirds. Sometimes the hot water that is collected also can be used to heat a building.

Solar Energy in Our Schools

MGE has installed photovoltaic systems on area high schools and community sites to create more awareness of renewable energy. Look at the map at the right to see the schools that are using this innovative technology on their rooftops. Visit for more information.

Map of Madison Solar Schools

MGE Solar Partnership

  1. Abundant Life Christian School
  2. Edgewood High School
  3. James Madison Memorial High School
  4. La Follette High School
  5. Madison East High School
  6. Madison West High School
  7. Malcolm Shabazz High School
  8. Clark St. Community School
  9. Middleton High School
  10. Monona Grove High School
  11. Badger Rock Middle School
Badger Rock Middle School students with solar panels

Solar Projects Around Town

Family bike ride on a bike path Solar Flare solar panels Solar canopy Installing solar panels at the state capitol Shared Solar panels

Aldo Leopold Nature Center (live data)

Bike Path Lighting

Dane County Arena

Dane County Henry Vilas Zoo

Goodman Pool

Lussier Family Heritage Center

Madison Children's Museum (live data)

Olbrich Gardens Solar Flair (live data)

Society of Friends Meeting House

Portable Solar Energy Exhibit

Solar Parking Canopy State Capitol (live data)

UW-Madison Arboretum

McKay Center Addition

Middleton Operations Center
Shared Solar Headline

Shared solar is an awesome way to share in the power of the sun! MGE built a huge array of solar panels on the City of Middleton Municipal Operations Center. MGE customers have signed on to the program to help foster the use of locally generated solar energy in our community. The clean, renewable solar electricity generated through Shared Solar helps the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and helps manage fuel costs.

Middleton Shared Solar facility
Solar Energy Timelne Online game headline

Play the Solar Energy Timeline Online! This interactive project involves matching up historical developments in solar energy in the order in which they occurred.

See the solar energy generated by the sun firsthand. Work with your teacher and classmates to build this fun & tasty Solar Hot Dog Cooker.

Project from Energy Quest™ by the California Energy Commission

hot dog

Wind turbines capture the wind’s energy with propeller-like blades that are mounted on a rotor. Turbines are placed on top of high towers to take advantage of the stronger wind at 100 feet or more above the ground.

Single wind turbines can be used to generate power for a single home or farm. Utilities build a large number of wind turbines close together to form a wind farm.

Wind Energy Facts On wind farms, the turbines take up only 5% of the land, leaving the rest for other uses like farming.

The total wind resource in the United States is very large. All states have some windy areas, but the Great Plains and Midwest lead the rest of the country. The states of Texas, Kansas, and North Dakota could provide enough electricity to power the entire U.S.

Five nations, including U.S., Germany, Spain, China and India, account for roughly 73% of the world’s installed wind energy capacity. Wind energy is the fastest growing renewable energy source around the world.


1390 The Dutch create the Tower Mill and hire windsmiths to run them.


Late 19th Century Americans start using a multi-blade windmill to generate electricity.

Wind energy has been used since early recorded history to do work. From powering boats along the Nile as early as 5000 B.C. to pushing the blades on a windmill in order to pump water and to crush a farmer's grain, wind has been, and still is, used as a viable source of energy.

Wind farm

What's a Wind Farm?

MGE has a 17-turbine wind farm in Kewaunee County, Wis., and an 18-turbine wind farm in Kensett, Iowa. If we burned fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas to make the same amount of electricity as these wind farms make each year, these fossil fuels would put 123,000 tons of carbon dioxide into the air. That wouldn’t be good for the environment.

MGE plans new wind farm west of Madison

map of Iowa and Wisconsin

MGE is planning to build a new wind farm near Saratoga, Iowa. This area, 200 miles west of Madison, is know for its strong winds.

The 33 wind turbines would reach nearly 500 feet in the air.

MGE estimates that would serve about 47,000 average homes with clean energy.

Q‐Which wind tower will produce the most electricity?
A. 350 ft.
B. 425 ft.
C. 500 ft.

Green TV

Illustration of a green TV

It's a big neighborhood and this great Web channel brings us all together. It's called Green View and features stories about how MGE is investing in wind and solar energy. Visit

Green Careers

People who have green careers promote energy efficiency and increase the supply of renewable energy. Most green careers require a post-high school degree. Here are some of the green energy careers you might be interested in:

  1. Wind Technician
  2. Solar Site Assessor
  3. Architect
  4. Landscape Architect
  5. Electrician
  6. Surveyor
  7. Excavator
  8. Crane Operator
  9. Civil Engineer
  10. Assembly Technician

Building your community energy company of the future

Mom and daughter learning about energy at a laptop

MGE is committed to building a bright, cleaner energy future for all of us. We have set goals to reduce carbon emission and produce more energy from renewable sources.

A new website,, communicates our partnerships with the community, schools, businesses and people to share innovative ideas for renewable energy initiatives and teaches us all how to use less energy.

Another new program, Balance Madison, helps promote green living and environmentally friendly practices by engaging families like yours with support on energy ideas and savings programs.

It’s a fun way to learn about caring for our environment.

Go to and find a good idea for saving energy.

What is your idea?

Vehicle charging station

[Plug-in Electric Vehicles]

All around the Madison area increasing numbers of people are discovering the benefits of driving electric vehicles. Electric vehicles reduce gasoline use, lower fuel costs and reduce air emissions.

[Charging Stations]

Where can you plug in?

MGE has a network of charging stations around our community. Find the charging station closest to you at

Q‐How many MGE charging stations are there in the Madison area?

Q‐Where is the DC Quick Charging Station?

DC quick charging station

[DC Quick Charging Station]

MGE installed Wisconsin’s first public quick charger for electric vehicles (EV). The unit can charge an EV battery to 80% in less than 30 minutes. The quick charging option now makes commuting longer distances more convenient for EV drivers. Visit to learn more.

[Watts Up Portable Energy Meter]

Phantom or standby energy users are devices that require electricity even when you aren’t actively using them. They don’t use much power individually, but when you add them up, they impact your monthly energy use. Check out a "Watts Up" portable energy meter from your public library to learn which equipment uses power when turned off.

Q‐Where can you borrow a portable energy meter?

Energy meter
Geothermal Community Center

[Geothermal Energy] is beneath you!

Geothermal heat pumps circulate liquids through pipes buried in a continuous loop (either horizontally or vertically) to heat and cool buildings. Geothermal energy takes advantage of the constant subsurface ground temperature.

Q‐Which community center in Madison has Geothermal Technology? [Hint: visit]

Nature Net headline image

  Registration is required

   Fee or ticket price

Have you ever been a part of a team? You all work together, right? Well, that’s how Nature Net works.

It’s your favorite nature centers, parks and museums teaming up to teach us all more about our precious environment. When we all work together, we can help your teachers make outdoor field trips possible. Or, we can give you a bunch of really cool places to visit with your Nature Passport. Or, we can pull together all the things we know and email your parents a nature update every month (even parents like to learn new things). By working together, Nature Net makes learning about the environment fun, easy and exciting! Find more details, activities, and ideas of things to do outside this season at . Celebrate spring and the weeks around Earth Day with a range of free or low-cost family events each day!

4/11 • TUE

Aldo Leopold Nature Center

Wonder Bugs: "Duck Duck Cute"


You're it! Waddle this way for waterfowl adventures and games. These birds are sure to "bill" you with delight. Come take a quack at it! For ages 2 - 5 with caregiver.  

Madison Children's Museum



Learn about the benefits of Wheatgrass and plant some to bring home.

Olbrich Botanical Gardens

New and exciting annuals for the bed, border, and container


Small solar installation

Join Mark Dwyer, director of horticulture at Rotary Botanical Gardens, to learn about some of the best annuals on the market, including ornamental values, suggestions for use, and considerations for care.  

4/12 • WED

Aldo Leopold Nature Center

Wonder Bugs: "Duck Duck Cute"


You're it! Waddle this way for waterfowl adventures and games. These birds are sure to "bill" you with delight. Come take a quack at it! For ages 2 - 5 with caregiver.  

4/13 • THU

Madison Children's Museum

Mushroom Madness


Learn about the world of mushrooms and help plant oyster and shiitake mushrooms to grow at the museum.

4/14 • FRI

Aldo Leopold Nature Center

Wonder Bugs: "Duck Duck Cute"


You're it! Waddle this way for waterfowl adventures and games. These birds are sure to "bill" you with delight. Come take a quack at it! For ages 2 - 5 with caregiver.  

Olbrich Botanical Gardens

Toddler Story Stroll: “Going around the Sun”


Classes include a story, a stroll through the outdoor gardens, and theme-related activities designed for you and your preschooler to spend quality time together. Ages 2-4 with an adult.  

4/15 • SAT

International Crane Foundation

Visitor season begins!


International Crane Foundation opens for the season. Learn about cranes and our global conservation programs on a guided tour with a naturalist. Enjoy exploring our nature trails, take home a memento from our unique gift shop, and discover our interactive exhibits.

UW Arboretum

Ecological Restoration Work Party: Grady Tract


Volunteer for restoration activities and learn about prairies and savannas. Tools and training provided. Groups welcome with advance notice. Meet at Grady Tract parking lot, southeast corner of Seminole Hwy. and W. Beltline Frontage Rd.

Aldo Leopold Nature Center

Land Steward Work Day


Interested in helping restore and maintain ALNC's prairie, marsh and woodlands? Join us for a volunteer work day and develop your own connection with the land.

Aldo Leopold Nature Center

Great Egg Hunt & Spring Spectacular


Come celebrate spring! Go on an egg hunt throughout ALNC's grounds, learn how to use natural dyes, visit with spring animals, learn the legend of the spring rabbit and more!  

4/16 • SUN

UW Arboretum

Walk: “For Love of the Earth”


The coming week marks both Earth Day and John Muir’s birthday. Join the naturalist to search for signs of spring and renewal. Meet at the Visitor Center.

4/17 • MON

Play outside or take a walk at a nature center near you!

4/18 • TUE

Aldo Leopold Nature Center

Wonder Bugs: “Earth to Egg”


It's Earth week, let's celebrate eggs! We’ll explore some animals that hatch from eggs. Games, crafts and songs will make this egg-cellent! For ages 2-5 with caregiver.  

4/19 • WED

Aldo Leopold Nature Center

Wonder Bugs: “Earth to Egg”


It's Earth week, let's celebrate eggs! We’ll explore some animals that hatch from eggs. Games, crafts and songs will make this egg-cellent! For ages 2-5 with caregiver.  

Madison Children's Museum

Bottle Biology


Learn about plants and what they need to grow. Plant a terrarium to bring home.

4/20 • THU

UW Geology Museum

Museum Storytime


Museum Storytime is geared towards preschool-aged children and each week features a book, museum specimens, and a craft to take home.

Madison Children's Museum

Cabin Gardening


Help get the log cabin garden ready for the season. Learn about plants and gardening in this historical heirloom garden.

Madison Children's Museum

Nature Prints


Make nature prints in the art room with a variety of materials to celebrate our earth.

Olbrich Botanical Gardens

Introduction to Macro and Close-up Photography – Tools and Techniques


Do you want to improve your skills and techniques, or just learn the basics of capturing close-up objects with your digital camera? If so, here's your chance to join photography instructor John Lorimer and learn how to improve your digital photographs of small objects.  

Olbrich Botanical Gardens

Vegetable Diseases and their Management


Learn about common vegetable diseases and how to prevent them from being such a big problem in coming years with "Dr. Death," UWEX Senior Outreach Specialist and Director of Plant Disease Diagnostic Services, Brian Hudelson.  

4/21 • FRI

Aldo Leopold Nature Center

Wonder Bugs: “Earth to Egg”


It's Earth week, let's celebrate eggs! We’ll explore some animals that hatch from eggs. Games, crafts and songs will make this egg-cellent! For ages 2-5 with caregiver.  

Olbrich Botanical Gardens

Toddler Story Stroll: “Over in a River”


Classes include a story, a stroll through the outdoor gardens, and theme-related activities designed for you and your preschooler to spend quality time together. Ages 2-4 with an adult.  

Aldo Leopold Foundation

Brown Bag: Agriculture as a Restoration Tool


Since Aldo Leopold’s work with the Coon Valley Watershed Project in the 1930s, there have been many efforts to create soil conservation practices in farming. Madison College Instructor Randy Zogbaum will explore a brief history of these efforts and where we are today.

Madison Children's Museum

Adopt a Plant


Decorate a planter and plant a plant to take home.  

4/22 • SAT

Earth Day

UW Arboretum

Ecological Restoration Work Party: Core Area and Curtis Prairie


Volunteer for restoration activities and learn about prairies and savannas. Tools and training provided. Groups welcome with advance notice. Meet at the Visitor Center.

MacKenzie Center

Work, Play, Earth Day


Celebrate Earth Day at the MacKenzie Center this year. Come volunteer with us to help remove invasive species, clear brush, paint picnic tables, pick up garbage and participate in other volunteer activities. Families, individuals, scout groups, 4-H groups, businesses, and other organizations are all welcome to attend.

Aldo Leopold Nature Center

Earth Day Badge Fest


Celebrate Earth Day by joining us on a science and nature themed badge-earning adventure! Activities will work towards many girl scout badges.  

Madison Parks

Earth Day Challenge


Celebrate Earth Day with your neighbors and friends by cleaning up your local park and neighborhood. Join this community-wide effort to make a difference in Madison Parks.

Henry Vilas Zoo

Party for the Planet/Earth Day Celebration


Join more than 100 AZA accredited zoos and aquariums for Party for the Planet, the largest combined Earth Day celebration in North America! Visit the MGE solar energy trailer, climb a tree with Dane County arborists, learn about invasive species, and pick up a free seedling from the DNR!

Madison Children's Museum

Seedballs    10:30am-12pm

Celebrate Earth Day by making seedballs. Use soil, clay and seeds to make seedballs for guerilla gardening. Plant them anywhere by dropping them in open spaces.

UW Arboretum

Native Plant Garden Tour: Early Signs of Spring     1-3pm

As trees begin to leaf out, Dutchman’s breeches, twin-leaf, and rue-anemones might be blooming in the woodland gardens, and pasqueflower and prairie-smoke in the prairie gardens. Meet at the Visitor Center.

4/23 • SUN

Olbrich Botanical Gardens

Etegami: Celebrate spring with Japanese picture messages


Artist Stella Dobbins, a signature member of the National Watercolor Society, will teach you different brushstrokes and watercolor techniques, along with Asian calligraphy. Etegami art is fun for beginners to advanced students.  

UW Arboretum

Walk: Woodland Wildflowers


If this is a typical spring, we may find bloodroot, wild ginger, Virginia bluebells, and Dutchman’s breeches (among other delights) along the trails of our restored woodlands. Meet at the Visitor Center.

Olbrich Botanical Gardens

Combining Perennials for All Season Color


With proper planning you can time your perennial blooms to provide color from early spring through late fall. Join Joan Ziegler, landscape architect from ZDA, Inc., as she discusses and illustrates how to combine the best perennials for all season color and year-round interest in your garden.  

UW Arboretum

Family Nature Program: Birds in the Gardens


Celebrate Earth Day by walking in our gardens and learning about the birds that make their homes here. Naturalist-led hike from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., indoor activities from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Meet at the Visitor Center.

Ongoing at Nature Net Sites This Month

  • Self-guided tours at Aldo Leopold Foundation. M-F 9am-4pm
    and Saturday 10am-4pm
  • Earth Month in the exhibits, family trailside backpacks, and public hours at Aldo Leopold Nature Center. M-F 9am-4pm and Saturday & Sunday 10am-2pm
  • Hike boardwalks at Cherokee Marsh. Dawn to dusk seven days a week
  • Climb the fire tower, tour the Wildlife Exhibit or Logging Museum, and picnic at MacKenzie Center. Trails and grounds open daily, dawn to dusk; exhibits and museums open M-F 10am-4pm
  • Visit the “Light Gaps” exhibit and explore the outdoor gardens during expanded hours at Olbrich Botanical Gardens. Gardens open daily from 8am-8pm, Bolz Conservatory open daily from 10am-4pm
  • Check out the exhibits at the UW Geology Museum. M-F 8:30am-4:30pm, Saturday 9am-1pm

Join these national programs

  • Project BudBurst – Record your spring nature observations at
  • National Environmental Education Week (April 23-29, 2017) – register your Earth Day project at

Brought to you by Nature Net

Nature Net logo

Nature Net: Powered by the Aldo Leopold Nature Center with charitable support from American Girl Fund for Children.

   registration is required

   fee or ticket price

Program fees and registration vary. For event information, registration details and more, click on the Earth Day Bouquet icon at

While you're there, don’t forget to check out all the Nature Net sites for programs and special events throughout the year! You can also sign up for Nature Net News – a free monthly e-newsletter with tips, tricks and cool ideas – designed with busy families in mind!