Making your kids energy aware takes more than just nagging them to shut the refrigerator door. Teaching kids to be conscious of the environment will instill good habits that last a lifetime. Bonus – you can save on your electricity bill as they learn!
- Conserve and Earn
Make a chart designed to reach a fun goal for your family, like a night out at the movies or a pizza party.
Then brainstorm a list of activities that are human powered, instead of electricity powered. Each time the kids spend time reading, playing games or doing some other energy-free activity, let them put a sticker on the chart. Once they reach the top, they’ve earned enough energy savings for the prize.
- Let Them Help
Kids love to help, especially if they work alongside their parents. Get your kids involved in doing all sorts of energy saving chores.
First, work with your kids to create a list of ways to save on electricity. Then, help them put these savings plans into action.
For example, show them how to change air conditioner filters, install new LED light bulbs, hose down the outside air conditioning unit, or vacuum the living room air vents. Take advantage of these times to teach children why these jobs are important, and how you save energy and money by doing them.
- Human Powered Fun
Kids will learn more by doing activities than they will by listening to lectures about how important it is to save energy.
Plan some fun weekend activities based around being frugal and using renewable energy. You’ll have family fun time together along with teaching them a lesson about why it’s important not to waste precious resources. Here are some examples of making energy conservation a more fun and natural part of their day.
- Ride bikes instead of going for a drive in the car. Along the way, talk about all the times you could ride or walk instead of drive, and calculate the amount of money you could save.
- Have a no-TV family fun night. Turn off the television and gadgets and have some old-fashioned fun. Play board games or charades, try a game of flashlight tag for the whole family and finish the night telling stories or reading books. Fun nights like this can go a long way toward teaching your kids how to have fun without their devices.
- Creative Thinking on Conservation
Have a talk with the kids about how much energy you can save by changing your thermostat only a couple of degrees. According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, for every degree you adjust the thermostat, you can save 3-5% on your heating or cooling costs.
Brainstorm ways together for being comfortable with the indoor temperature being warmer in the summer or cooler in the winter. Mix practical and silly answers for the best results. What’s better, a fan or an elephant that sprays water on you in the summer? Would a fuzzy bear hug be better than a sweater in the winter? Why not? Put each kid in charge of one aspect of temperature control and comfort in the house.
- Use Your Electricity Bill as a Math Exercise
Your energy plan costs a certain amount of money for every kilowatt hour (kWh) you use. Use your electricity bill and a calculator to figure out how much it costs to run different appliances around your home. Let your kids know that the television costs so much money per hour, a video game system has a different cost, and so on.
- Pull out your electricity bill and identify the total cost per kWh
- Make a list of appliances in your house
- Find the amount of kilowatts they use (usually on a label on the back of the appliance)
- Calculate how many kilowatts they use in an hour
- Then figure out how much money each item costs to run
You can find specific examples of this calculation online.
This is just a start on how to incorporate energy savings into your curriculum and everyday life. You can find more ideas in our article “6 Tips for Raising Energy Smart Kids.”
About the Author:
Shannon Bedrich is co-founder of ElectricityPlans.com, an online shopping site for electricity. When she’s not writing about how to save money on electricity, she can be found telling her two teenage boys to shut the refrigerator door or turn off the TV.