Going green is easier said than done, especially when you have kids. You do your best to install eco-friendly products and appliances, but you’re still surprised when you get an expensive monthly utility bill.
Naturally, it’s easy to blame it on your kids. You tell them to be better about their energy use, but they don’t listen. It can seem like a never-ending battle between parent and child to save energy and it’s easy to give up or feel discouraged.
Thankfully, there are tools and resources that parents can use to fix this never-ending cycle of energy waste. Here are three things you can do to help your kids become the ultimate energy conservationists.
Show Them Why Conserving Energy Matters
If you’re like me, you look for the path with the least resistance when it comes to parenting your children, often times saying “Because I said so” works. However, this may not be the best thing to say when you’re trying to instill eco-friendly habits into your son or daughter. Instead, show them why saving energy will be beneficial for them and the planet.
There are multiple ways to do this, but NASA has a great resource for both parents and children to learn about the importance of energy conservation. Talk through the following basic concepts with your child: “What is a climate? What is weather?”
After you lay the groundwork , start adding in the next layer for them: “Why is the earth getting warmer? Why should we care about the earth getting warmer? What can we do to slow down or stop climate change?”
Show Them How to Conserve Energy at Home
Now that your children (hopefully) understand the importance of saving energy, it’s time to show them how to use less of it. There are many things you can do to save energy in your home, but I would just start with the simple things.
Turning off the lights when you leave a room is probably the lowest hanging fruit when it comes to saving energy. It’s not a hard concept to teach and it’s an easy habit to develop. Conserving water is also a straightforward principle for kids to understand. Try teaching them to shut off the faucet while they are in the middle of brushing their teeth or washing their hands.
The thermostat is also a good place to show your children how to save energy. It’s tempting to crank up the heat or air conditioning when it’s hot or cold outside, but increasing or decreasing the thermostat temperature by small increments can make a big difference for your home’s internal temperature.
Some other habits you can teach your children:
- Shutting all of the blinds and drapes during the summer months. Blocking the sunlight from entering your home will help keep your living space cooler.
- Opening all of your blinds and drapes during sunlight hours during the winter. The natural heat from the sun can do wonders to warm your home.
- Not opening the oven door while baking. Ovens lose a lot of heat if you open their doors during the baking process. It takes a significant amount of energy to reheat them.
- Using desktop lamps instead of overhead lighting. Lamps use a lot less electricity than conventional overhead lightbulbs. Using energy-efficient bulbs are helpful, too.
Show Them Saving Energy Can Be Fun
It’s not fun being the thermostat or light police. But saving energy can be an enjoyable experience for your family. Try the following creative ideas that your children can participate:
- Energy treasure hunt. Have your kids search the house for devices or appliances that use a lot of energy.
- Family teaching night. Encourage your kids to teach the rest of the family about the importance of conservation.
- Family bike rides. On your next family outing, ditch the car and ride your bikes together.
- Home improvement projects. Next time you’re doing a home improvement project to save on your utility bills, have your children help! It can help them feel more involved.
- Reward systems. Setting up some sort of a reward system can motivate your kids to stay consistent in their energy-saving efforts.
It will require some creativity, but there are a lot of activities you can do with your children to get them excited about using less water and electricity.
Decreasing your family’s energy consumption is no simple task—but it is achievable. Education, consistency and creativity can help your family be energy savers rather than energy wasters.
Act now to instill lifelong eco-friendly habits into your children. The Earth (and your wallet!) will thank you.