By Julie Lawrence Special to Published Nov 12, 2008 at 11:31 AM

While new fuel efficient cars and home solar panels are some of the most powerful ways to reduce our carbon footprint, a $25,000 investment is usually out of the question for most college students who are already battling rapidly increasing education costs.

But what about spending $16? Two University of Wisconsin student entrepreneurs say it can go further than you might think.

Mechanical engineering major Ted Durkee and business partner Brandon Gador, a recent graduate of Madison's School of Business, launched Powered Green this past October to provide an economical way for anyone to support renewable energy.

Their product, Energy Seal, is a recycled aluminum laptop sticker that funds carbon offsets. At $16, the cost of the sticker covers the production of enough renewable energy to offset what an average laptop uses in its lifetime.

Amazingly, $14 is enough to subsidize the retail cost of the laptop's lifetime energy consumption, paying for wind turbines that create electricity. The remaining $2 is for the actual seal, visual evidence that promotes the buyer's support of the eco-friendly endeavor.

"It essentially has the effect of a wind turbine in your backyard without actually having one," explains Durkee, who partnered Power Green with Village Green Energy, a renewable energy credit distributor based in California.

Durkee and Gador have already sold 387 Energy Seals, the equivalent of generating 267,030 kilowatts of energy. Their efforts have reduced 398,610 pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. The Powered Green Web site also provides information on laptop recycling and ways to make your computer use less energy.

The stickers are available via the Powered Green Web site, via Village Green Energy's site, as well as several Madison Ancora Coffee locations. Durkee, originally from Pewaukee, says he's working with Milwaukee retailers to get Energy Seals into coffee shops and small earth-friendly businesses in coming months.

Though Powered Green is a relatively new business initiative, both Durkee and Gandor have been "enamored" with the green movement and carbon reduction in their personal lives for years.

"In general, I watch what I buy, as far as how easy the (packaging) can be recycled," says Durkee. "I try to buy local foods, eat sustainability. I recycle everything and Brandon and I both bike everywhere in Madison."

Julie Lawrence Special to staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.

As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”