How to Teach Your Children Energy Conservation This Summer
Kids don’t have a great understanding of consequences, and something as abstract as energy usage can be hard for them to grasp. But there are a lot of ways you can make the topic more concrete and teach them good habits at the same time. Learning how to conserve energy translates into making different daily choices and understanding the science behind it, and leading others to be more cognizant of their energy consumption. Here are some ways to make energy conservation tangible and even fun for your kids.
Find other ways to cool off in the heat
Instead of turning up the AC during the hottest part of the day, take the kids out to cool off elsewhere. There are splash parks around the city and many other activities to do in air-conditioned spaces or outdoors in the shade during long summer days. Save chores that produce heat inside the home, such as laundry and mopping, for early morning or night. If you’re teaching your kids how to help with these chores, it’s the perfect time to start them off right.
Unplug devices when not in use
It’s hard to pay attention to all the times your kids start and stop using devices, so teach them to unplug the TV or Xbox when they’re done. Start giving this message early and repeat it often so that it becomes a habit for them even when you’re not around.
Use your smart home systems
Kids love new gadgets and apps, so loop them in on the smart home devices you already use. Explain to them how you set the thermostat to adjust cooling when you’re not home. Team them how to use the app to turn the lights on or off in their bedrooms. Ask them which devices they use would benefit from being plugged into a smart plug, and then have them do it for themselves.
Teach responsible refrigerator use
Kids (and adults!) sometimes develop a habit of standing in front of the fridge looking for a snack. Head off the energy loss produced by leaving the fridge door open for long periods of time by teaching kids how to think about what they want to eat ahead of time and to make a plan if it involves multiple items from the fridge. A sandwich, for instance, might require lunch meat, bread, and mayonnaise or other condiments. If they know what they need and can visualize where these items are ahead of time, they’ll be much more effective at this energy conservation tactic.
Play online games
The U.S. Energy Information Administration has a bunch of games for kids to teach them about energy types, terms, and more. Check out their Energy Kids page and help your kids choose from riddles, puzzles, quizzes, or scavenger hunts. Once they’re finished (or have gotten bored), have a conversation with them about what they learned.
Build renewable energy devices
Find a kit or, if you’re handy, some raw materials to use in constructing a windmill or wind turbine with your child. The project itself will be fun, and when it’s done, you can take it outside during an evening breeze so they can see how it works and have a conversation with them about wind and other forms of renewable energy. Another idea in the same vein: create a solar oven and use it to cook a meal or two. The novelty alone is sure to hold kids’ attention.
Connect energy conservation to a reward
If you have kids old enough to do some research and put together basic numbers, teach them to save up for something they want by finding ways to reduce the home energy bill. By finding out how much energy different appliances use during peak or off-peak hours and when they’re in standby mode, kids can do the math to figure out how much money the family could save on the monthly bill by making a few basic changes. Whether or not you want to actually wait to reward them until those savings have been realized is up to you.
These are just a few ways to help your kids learn about the complex topic of energy use and how it relates to daily life. And who knows, you might learn something new, too!