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 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 school students

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 at MGE State Capitol (live data)

UW-Madison Arboretum

McKay Center Addition

Middleton Operations Center
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.

hot dog
Shared Solar Headline

Middleton Shared Solar facilityShared 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 carbon dioxide emissions.

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.

What's a Wind Farm?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 builds new wind farm west of Madison

map of Iowa and Wisconsin

MGE is building a new wind farm about 200 miles west of Madison near Saratoga, Iowa, an area known for its wind. The 66-megawatt wind farm, which will be MGE's largest to date, will serve about 47,000 homes with clean energy.

The turbines will reach nearly 500 feet in the air.

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 examples of green energy careers that might interest you:

  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

MGE's website,, is your source for learning how we all can work together to save energy. When we all use energy efficiently Mom and daughter learning about energy at a laptop and reduce our energy use, we are able to make an impact by helping our environment. Being energy efficient is being environmentally friendly.

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?

Headline says 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.

How do electric vehicles work?

Vehicle charging station

An electric vehicle is powered by an electric motor rather than a gasoline or diesel engine. While some newer electric vehicles have their own distinctive exterior designs, you’ll really notice the difference under the hood.

  • A conventional engine is replaced by an electric motor.
  • The speed and direction of the vehicle (forward or reverse) is determined by a controller.
  • The motor gets its power from an array of rechargeable batteries.


Benefits of electric vehicles

  1. Reduced gasoline use. In 2016, about 392 million gallons of gasoline were consumed per day.
  2. Lower fuel costs. Electricity is less expensive per mile driven than gasoline or diesel fuel.
  3. Reduced air emissions. And you can offset electricity emissions by buying green power for your home and vehicle charging through MGE's Green Power Tomorrow program.

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 are MGE's Quick Charging Stations Located?

DC quick charging station

[DC Quick Charging Stations]

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!

4/7 • SAT

MacKenzie Center

Friends of MacKenzie Maple Festival


Come learn about how maple sugar and syrup was made by Native Americans and pioneers, as well as current methods used today. There will be live music, food, horse wagon rides, interpretative displays, and much more!  

Olbrich Gardens

Top Fifty Plants for Birds in Wisconsin


Learn about some of the best native plants to attract Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, American Goldfinches, Eastern Bluebirds, and more. Mariette Nowak, author of Birdscaping in the Midwest will discuss how to select the right plants for your location and birds you wish to attract.  

UW Geology Museum

Open House

9am - 4pm

Explore the Geology Museum and take a peek into Wisconsin's deep history! Our minerals, rocks, and fossils have the power to educate and inspire visitors of all ages.

4/8 • SUN

Olbrich Gardens

Chinese Brush Painting: Flowers, Insects, and Birds


Small solar installation

Enjoy a creative day learning Asian brush painting techniques to create flowers, insects, and birds. Artist Stella Dobbins, who studied the art form in Japan, will teach you the basic painting strokes and the calligraphy for each subject she demonstrates.  

4/9 • MON

Get your hands in the dirt! Plant some seeds, pull some weeds. Help the Earth get ready for Spring!

4/10 • TUE

Aldo Leopold Nature Center

Wonder Bugs: Blue Jays, Okay!


Make way for games and don’t delay. Say ki-ki-ki and come and play. We’ll provide the crafts, activities, and singing too. The crest is up to you!

4/11 • WED

Olbrich Gardens

Gardening by the Moon


Learn the basics of this ancient agricultural practice of when to most effectively plant, weed, and harvest your garden from Jane Hawley Stevens, herbalist, organic herb grower, and founder of Four Elements Organic Herbals. 

4/12 • THU

Aldo Leopold Nature Center

Vacation Days: Wetland Wake-up


Become a wetland ecologist for the day! We’ll visit the pond and marsh to listen closely for croaks, chirps, trills, and whistles of frogs and toads to learn how to identify them. We’ll also bird watch with binoculars and try to find some spring migrants by peeking in the pond to see what creatures have emerged! 

4/13 • FRI

Olbrich Gardens

Toddler Story & Strolls


Toddler Story & Strolls are nature- and literature-based early childhood classes designed to meet the multidimensional learning and developmental needs of children ages 2-4 years. Classes include a story, a stroll through the outdoor gardens or conservatory, and theme-related activities. 

4/14 • SAT

Community Groundworks

Volunteer Day at Goodman Youth Farm


We’ll have a fun time working in the garden and getting the farm ready for our weekly youth programs. You are welcome to volunteer individually or with a group. All ages welcome.

UW Arboretum

Ecological Restoration Work Party

Purple flower and bee


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

Madison Children's Museum

Mushroom Madness


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

4/15 • SUN

UW Arboretum

For the Love of the Earth Walk


The coming week marks both Earth Day and John Muir’s birthday. Join Arboretum naturalists to search for signs of spring and renewal

International Crane Foundation

Crane family

International Crane Foundation Opens for the Season


Come to Baraboo to learn about cranes and our global conservation programs through 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. Mention this Nature Net calendar and receive $1 off admission.

4/16 • MON

Olbrich Gardens

Selecting and Growning Tropical Orchids


Conservatory Curator Colten Blackburn will discuss how to choose and care for orchids best suited to your home, pocketbook, and skill level. He will also take you behind the scenes for a guided tour of the orchid greenhouse to see and hear about Olbrich’s orchid collection.  

4/17 • TUE

Olbrich Gardens

Garbage Into Gold


Susan Obry, certified master gardener and master composter, will teach about both basic and advanced composting techniques, uses, and tools that will help turn your yard trimmings and household waste into soil amendment “gold.” 

4/18 • WED

Lussier Heritage Park

Land Stewardship Work & Prairie/Marsh Educational Hike


Students can enjoy a naturalist-led prairie and marsh hike using a trail guide booklet and help improve prairie and woodland landscapes. All age groups are welcome. If your school group or student is interested, please contact Clare to register: or 608-224-3606.

Aldo Leopold Nature Center

Wonder Bugs: Land Ho!



Oceans may be far from landlocked Wisconsin, but the wonders are ever so close. Splash into a fascinating, briny world. You’ll sea and learn amazing things!

4/19 • THU

UW Geology Museum


Museum Storytime


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

4/20 • FRI

Olbrich Gardens

Purple and blue flowers

Toddler Story & Strolls: Red Rubber Boot Day


Toddler Story & Strolls are nature- and literature-based early childhood classes designed to meet the multidimensional learning and developmental needs of children ages 2-4 years. Classes include a story, a stroll through the outdoor gardens or conservatory, and theme-related activities.

4/22 • SAT

Upham Woods Outdoor Learning Center

Earth Day Public Day


Volunteer to participate in a stewardship and conservation project and stay for a naturalist-led hike on the Upham Woods property. A great opportunity for families, scouts, 4-H groups, other organizations, or individuals to be on the Upham property and give back on Earth Day.

Community Groundworks

Opening Day at Troy Community Gardens


Join in on the fun of opening up the community gardens for the season! All ages welcome! No need to pre-register.

UW Arboretum

Ecological Restoration Work Party


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

Madison Children’s Museum


Madison Children's Museum


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

Madison Parks

Earth Day Challenge   10am-12pm

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.

Aldo Leopold Nature Center

Land Steward Work Day     10-11:30am

Interested in helping restore and maintain the Aldo Leopold Nature Center’s prairie, marsh, woodlands, and garden? Help collect seeds from the prairie and various other tasks. Children are welcome with an accompanying adult.

4/23 • SUN

Earth Day!

Yellow flower

Olbrich Botanical Gardens

Walk: Celebrate Earth Day Among 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.

UW Arboretum

Arboretum Visitors Center

Earth Day Celebration!


Join us for an outdoor Earth Day celebration walk and indoor activities to honor this special day. Naturalist-led walk, plus indoor activities after the walk. Meet at the Visitor Center.

Henry Vilas Zoo

Party for the Planet/Earth Day Celebration


Join more the 100 AZA accredited zoos and aquariums for 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!

Ongoing at Nature Net Sites This Month

  • Self-guided tours at Aldo Leopold Foundation. M-F 10am-4pm and Saturday 9am-5pm
  • 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 8am-4pm
  • Explore the outdoor gardens during expanded hours at Olbrich Botanical Gardens. Gardens open daily from 8am-8pm, Bolz Conservatory Monday-Sunday 10am-4pm
  • Check out the exhibits at the UW Geology Museum. M-F 8:30am-4:30pm, Saturday 9am-1pm

Join these national programs

  • National Environmental Education Week (April 23-29, 2018) – register your Earth Day project at
  • Green and Healthy Schools - Get your school to reduce environmental impact and costs and omprove environmental and sustainability literacy.

Find more details, activities, and ideas of things to do outside this season 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!