You’re aware of the importance of having a small carbon footprint, and do all you can to leave this world a little cleaner while saving money in the process. But what about the next generation? Are you doing all you can to raise your kids in an energy-smart way?
Making your kids energy aware takes more than just nagging them to turn out the lights when they leave the room. Teaching kids to be conscious of the environment will instill good habits that last a lifetime. Try these tips to make saving energy a more fun and natural part of their day.
1. Teach About Saving for a Goal
Your energy plan costs a certain amount of money for every kilowatt-hour you use. This is a complicated subject to teach kids, but a simplified plan can teach them the concept. Let them know that the television costs so much money per hour, a video game system has a different cost, and so on.
Read What Appliances Use The Most Electricity? for more.
Make a chart designed to reach a large goal, such as a family vacation. 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 to go on the trip. Every time your kids sacrifice a little bit of electricity usage, they’re learning the value of being energy frugal.
2. Get Involved in Fun Activities
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.
- 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 an energy-free 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.
- Make a game of “Catch the Waster.” Spend one week where your kids earn a point every time they find something that’s wasting energy, from lights left on to a half-full running dishwasher. At the end of the week, the winner gets to choose a fun family activity.
- Need a game for a long car ride? Name daily activities and see who can shout out an energy-saving alternative. For example, how can you save energy while cooking dinner? While washing the car? While doing homework?
3. Thermostat Control
Have a talk with kids about how much energy you can save by changing your thermostat only a couple of degrees. 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.
4. Teach About Local Energy
Do your kids know where your local energy comes from? Do you? Look up local power providers to find out how local energy is produced and spend time exploring the concept with your kids. Is there a power plant nearby that gives tours? Can you put together an online tour the family can watch?
Once kids learn how many people work to produce the energy for their house, and how much work it takes to do it, it might be harder for them to waste power by leaving lights and appliances on.
5. Appoint an Energy Czar
Give each kid a week during which they’re in charge of making sure the family doesn’t waste energy. Everyone has to listen to the czar, as long as she makes sense with her suggestions. You might not want to give up your television for the night, but if she calls for family board game night, you’ve got to go along. At the end of the month, have a family discussion about who did the best, and why.
6. 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. Teach them how to change air conditioner filters, install new LED light bulbs, vacuum leaves out of 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 by doing them.
Kids love gadgets. What about trying some energy saving gadgets like a WiFi smart thermostat like Nest or Ecobee, or a voice-controlled speaker like Amazon Echo Dot?
Raising environmentally-conscious kids pays dividends both now and in the future. In the short term, you will be teaching them about the value of money and the importance of energy conservation. For the future, you’ll also instill good habits that will carry forward for wiser financial and environmentally friendly choices.
Want more fun energy conservation ideas? Check out our article on fun earth day activities for kids, including a carbon footprint worksheet.