Blog Post Monday 02 March 2020
You can cut your family expenses by getting everyone involved in saving energy. It's also a great learning experience for kids and important now that they are home more than before. By starting early you instil positive values, teach your kids discipline and demonstrate how to set and achieve goals. And if you make it fun rather than nagging them, with games, challenges and responsibilities, they will feel empowered and happy about saving energy. Try these strategies to get started.
Find ways to link small efforts like closing doors and switching off lights to the bigger picture. You can draw on a range of resources like posters and signs, along with websites to help your kids understand the connection between saving power at home, your power bill and the environment. Take time to explain as you engage in activities. Going outdoors is a great way to illustrate the concept. For example, you can spend an afternoon planting trees to shade your house and explain how this helps save energy and minimise carbon emissions.
List ways to save energy on a whiteboard and challenge your kids to achieve these goals. Include things like closing doors, turning off the TV at the socket and taking shorter showers. Other challenges can include opening the fridge once rather than multiple times, turning off the tablet or computer and closing doors and windows when the heater is switched on.
Once in a while, go electricity-free for several hours. You can use the opportunity to have a candlelit family game night, go outside and play in the garden or have a picnic at the park. Recognise their successful efforts with a star next to their name or a certificate of recognition.
Not everything has to be a challenge or test though. You can simply highlight energy-saving activities around the house to encourage your kids to be more aware of energy consumption. For example, reading a book uses less energy than watching TV or playing a computer game.
Kids love feeling useful. Why not involve your kids in energy-saving projects around the home? Have them help out with applying weather stripping, caulking windows and setting up automatic timers for switching off lights. When out shopping for new appliances, ask for your kids to help find the best-rated appliances. Have them help with basic things like choosing the washing machine setting and explain how this helps.
Reinforcing all this new information is important to help them retain it. Test your kids' energy and sustainability knowledge with some pop quizzes once in a while. Remember to reward them when they get it right.
Playing games is always a great way to help kids learn. Here are a few ideas:
Ribbon game - ask your children to find air leaks in the household by using a piece of ribbon. Show them how to hold the ribbon around window frames and the gaps around doors. If the ribbon flutters, there's an air gap. Once you find an air leak, involve you kids in the weather-stripping process.
Transport adventure - if you usually travel by car, plan an outing around a bike ride or public transport to illustrate how this helps you save energy.
I Spy - ask the kids to find energy saving activities around the house and have them point out energy-saving products at the shops.
Assign thermostat duty for the day to each child and have them check it several times a day to make sure it's not too high or too low. Older kids can be taught how to program the thermostat if you have a programmable one. You can also assign duties such as checking lights and appliances are off.
Upgrade your kids' bedrooms or playroom to turn it into an energy-efficient space. Involve your kids in the project, or let them take charge if they're older. For example, you can help them upgrade light bulbs to energy-efficient ones, install weatherproofing on doors and windows and choose shading options for windows in summer.
Sticker charts and certificates are great ways to recognise and reward your kids for good energy-saving habits. But you can also use bigger rewards like gift cards and dinner at their favourite restaurant to motivate your kids. To make it easier to track, you can encourage kids to ‘self-report’ when they've saved energy around the house. The self-reporting system also encourages your kids to be more aware of their energy usage throughout the day.
Learning to save energy around the house can be fun for kids if you engage them with a variety of activities. Highlight the things they should be doing and track, recognise and reward their efforts. Do energy-efficiency upgrades together and play games to raise awareness. By emphasising the fun in learning and doing, you'll probably get your kids to learn faster than otherwise.