VICENZA, Italy - In the Halloween spirit, Vicenza Elementary School third-graders engaged in Energy Awareness Month Oct. 23 through a special hunt for energy "vampires."

"It's never too early to start teaching kids smart tips about saving energy," said Jim Lessard, chief of Environmental Division, who runs the awareness campaign for the Directorate of Public Works.

During a kid-friendly energy lesson designed to educate them in the importance of energy efficiency, Lessard explained that energy vampires are electronic appliances that are constantly using energy even when one thinks they are off.

These vampires are everywhere, at home and school and they hang around all year long.

Lessard told his young audience that electronics send out revealing creepy signs that can help catch those energy suckers. Some emit light, like DVD players, and others might make a noise, like a laptop. A few, like a transformer, might be warm to the touch.

The important message is to keep the vampires at bay by unplugging them.

"It is important for children to learn about and practice energy conservation. Good habits learned while kids are young will stay with them throughout their lives," Lessard said.

Children learned how easy little things can help make a difference: turn off the lights, do not leave things on when not used or close the fridge door, for example.

"I think the children got a grasp of the importance of energy and how they can save energy in their daily lives," said Penny Villalvazo, Environmental Division volunteer assisting with the campaign. She said these classroom activities connect well to student homes and help get children and their parents engaged in simple actions that collectively can have a big impact.

In support of this campaign, the Environmental Division is conducting a coloring book project contest for elementary school students. The winners will be announced later in November.

Energy Awareness Month began in 1991. Since then, the U.S. Department of Energy has been conducting national energy awareness campaigns that promote wise and efficient use of energy.