How to Teach Your Kids to Save Energy

| October 24, 2013
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Saving energy in your home has to be a family practice. If the adults make a concerted effort to decrease energy use, but the children waste power and gas, you won’t be able save as much energy as you could – and should. This is why it is extremely beneficial to arm your children with information about how to save energy. Educating them starts with explaining why reducing energy use helps everyone now, because we can save money, as well as later, by saving our planet’s resources for future generations. You can lead by example, but you should also be very direct with your kids about staying on top of their energy conservation practices. Here are three simple, yet highly effective ways you can teach your kids about saving energy.

Turn Off Lights and Unplug Electronics

One of the ways that your family probably wastes the most power is by leaving lights and electronics on unnecessarily. You should tell your kids to turn off the lights that they aren’t using, and make sure that you do the same. Make a similar rule for computers, tablets, video game systems and TVs. Unplug chargers and charger units, if not in use, too. If you have CFL energy-efficient bulbs, you should only turn off your lights when you will be away for at least 15 minutes. Turning these bulbs on and off too many times actually reduces their life span, and doesn’t save as much energy. Keep one type of bulb throughout all the rooms in your home, so it doesn’t get too confusing for your kids – there will be only one rule to follow in each room.

Close Doors and Watch the Water

When you close doors and windows to the outside, you keep your air-conditioned or heated air inside where it belongs. Show your kids how to properly close the doors and windows all the way, and make sure that the sealing materials around the frame are airtight. Explain to your family that when they leave a door or window open, even just a crack, your air conditioning or heating will get outside, and they will feel more uncomfortable inside the house. Let your kids do the nightly walk around to check the doors and windows to get them involved. You can also purchase an inexpensive temperature gun, and let them test for leaks, under your supervision. Get the children involved in the process of weatherproofing your home. And speaking of leaks, the amount of water you use in your home has an impact on your energy bill. The more you heat the water in your home, the harder your water heater has to work, and the more energy you will ultimately use as a family.

Shop Together for Energy-Efficient Materials

When you go to the store to purchase energy efficient light bulbs or appliances, make it a family affair. Bring them along to look for energy-saving products, like insulation and window coverings. If your kids see the effort and money you put into running a more energy-efficient home, they will understand how important it is. Letting them in on the selection process for Energy Star appliances makes them more invested in the entire process, giving you a teachable moment. Describe the types of light bulbs to your children, and talk about things like programmable thermostats and weather stripping. Explain how every little effort combines to make a big difference in energy conservation. Most energy suppliers provide a graph of your home’s energy use compared to that of your neighbors, so put that on your refrigerator or family bulletin board for the whole family to see. Use it to make goals for the next month – and if you don’t receive a monthly report, you can create a simple one of your own using your energy bill, or call them to request one. This way, your family can see the results of their efforts and energy mindfulness.

Saving energy should always be a family effort. The actions of even one family member can negate all of the savings earned by everyone else in the home. By sealing your air conditioning and heating, and being conservative about your lighting and electronics usage, your family can make a big difference in their overall energy use.

Jessica Watts is a schoolteacher. She frequently writes about teaching kids smart habits on family blogs. You can find more information on buying energy efficient materials here.


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