As you’ve grown into adulthood, you’ve probably noticed that a lot of your phrases and habits are suspiciously similar to your parents. Every now and then, I’ll look down at my plate and think, “Pick a fruit or vegetable.” Why? Because growing up, “fruit or vegetable” was the constant refrain that my mom used if we tried to sneak off without a healthy dinner. Those habits from childhood are still ingrained in my psyche.
Why am I telling you this story? Because it’s an important insight into how childhood can shape your behavior as an adult. And, now more than ever, it’s essential that the next generation grows up with good habits regarding energy efficiency and conservation.
You probably already tell your kids to turn off the lights, turn off the faucet while they’re brushing their teeth, and to quickly shut the door when the heat or AC is on—with varying degrees of success. But kids like to know why. Why they have to turn off the TV when they aren’t watching it, why mom and dad are the only ones who get to control the thermostat, and, yes, why they need to eat fruits and vegetables.
Helping your children learn about energy efficiency is about impressing on them the importance of saving and conserving—and it’s about getting them involved with activities that make energy efficiency fun and inspiring.
Make It a Game
When coming up with energy conservation activities for your little ones, you’ll undoubtedly have more success if you can make it into a game. Try a “scavenger hunt,” for instance, where your kids attempt to find different household items that are using up energy unnecessarily. Stereos in standby mode, unused chargers plugged into the wall, and lights in empty rooms are all examples of what we call “energy hogs”—devices or appliances that use up energy unnecessarily when left plugged in or on standby mode.
You can even offer little rewards. Hide a treat each day by a new “energy hog” for your kiddos to scout out. Over the course of a couple weeks, they’ll discover all those unexpected spots around the house responsible for wasting electricity—and you’ll get several chances to explain how they can lessen the energy used by unplugging phone or computer chargers from the wall, or getting in the habit of turning game consoles off completely, rather than leaving them in a standby mode.
It’s not just fun and games, though. Many young kids love performing “scientific” experiments, especially if mom and dad are a part of it. Here’s an easy one to try:
All you need is an incandescent bulb, a compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL), a glass thermometer, and a lamp. You can find the two bulbs at any hardware store, and if you don’t have an old thermometer at your house, you can snag one online for a few dollars.
Carefully allow your child to screw the incandescent bulb into the lamp first. Then, turn it on and wait to see how long it takes the bulb to reach its full brightness. Once you’ve recorded that, hold the thermometer against the lamp for a full minute and record the temperature.
After the bulb cools, switch out the incandescent bulb for the CFL one and repeat the steps. You’ll find that while the incandescent bulb reaches its peak brightness quite quickly, it also gets very hot. That’s because it’s inefficient, and most of the energy it uses actually produces heat, not light. The CFL takes longer to light up, but it stays cooler, and is much more efficient. Then, blow your kids away with this energy fun fact: that CFL bulb will last 10 times longer and use 75% less energy over its lifetime. How’s that for conservation.
Take your kids out into nature and “unplug.” Combine this with the game we talked about earlier, circling the house to unplug electronics before you leave. You can set the tone for the day by leaving your cell phone at home or, if you’re uneasy about that, make sure it stays silent and out of your hand.
Make the day about enjoying the outdoors without electronic distractions. Your kids are almost certainly going to pick up cool rocks, walnuts, acorns, or anything else that catches their eye, so bring these small tokens back with you from the trip. Let your kids put them in a place of significance, like on the mantle or as a centerpiece on your kitchen table. They’ll serve as little reminders of how occasionally going “unplugged” is an easy way to start conserving energy.
Set the Example
When your kids are in elementary school, they still take most of their cues from you. At one point, when I was just a little kid, my dad had a job recycling cans. I told everyone that I was going to do the exact same thing when I grew up. I’ve put that career move on hold so far, but you see what I’m getting at.
If you want your kids to grow up knowing the importance of energy conservation, they have to see that it really matters to you. Let them hang out with you while you seal up windows, and even give them a turn with the caulk gun. Give them a chance to change out light bulbs. Involve them in keeping your house energy efficient and it will rub off on them.
At Liberty Power, we understand that you’re always looking for ways to keep your energy costs under control and explore new energy conservation options. That’s why we offer fixed rate energy contracts, and the ability to buy into renewable energy certificates that give you and your family the stability you’re looking for while making a smaller impact on our planet. Contact us today to learn more about how a retail energy supplier can help keep the surprise out of your family’s energy bill rate while you go clean and green.
Because, one day, when your kids have grown up, married, and moved out of the house, you want them to gaze around their new home, turn to their spouse, and say, “We haven’t used the toaster in a week. We should unplug it.”
Photo Credit: VisualHunt.com