Kids develop a lot of habits growing up, both good and bad. Learning to conserve energy can be one of those good habits. By doing so now, when they’re older and on their own, they will understand what it takes to lower their own energy bills.
This article will focus on the simple and easy ways to teach your kids to save energy. The goal will be for them to develop daily habits that they will continue to practice well into the future.
Talk, Talk, Talk
Ask yourself the following question. If you were to sit down right now with your 8 year old and ask them what it means to conserve energy, how do you think they would respond? Most likely, they probably wouldn’t have any idea what you’re talking about.
This would be the perfect time to explain to them what it is. And a little show and tell wouldn’t hurt either.
First of all, explain that energy is made up of the following elements:
- The weather
Start with electricity. Explain to them that turning the lights off when they leave a room, unplugging devices when not in use and closing the refrigerator quickly are all good things.
When it comes to water, teach them not to run water longer than necessary. Emphasize the fact that the goal is to help the planet while saving money that can eventually be used to do fun things kids often dream about.
At some point, your kids will start to ask question. Do your best to answer them while continuing to emphasize the importance of energy efficiency.
Developing and Building Good Habits
Various research has shown that breaking a bad habit or developing a good habit can take as much as 21 days. For kids, it’s a good rule of thumb to increase that timeframe to an entire month.
Use the first month to introduce them to good habits but do your best not to overwhelm them. Set goals for them and monitor their progress.
Tips on Developing Good Habits
Take your kids on a tour around your home to point out which items they interact with most throughout a typical day. Before doing so, grab a pad of sticky notes.
Place a sticky note on various appliances and devices with helpful tips. For example, on their bedroom light place a note that reads “turn me off”. In the bathroom, place a sticky note on the mirror remind them to only run the water while rinsing when brushing their teeth.
For kids with cell phones, remind them to unplug their charger once it’s done. Place a sticky note on any television they watch reminding them to turn off when they’re finished watching.
As mentioned earlier, weather plays a big part in energy conservation. Depending on the season and current conditions, you can teach your kids good habits. For example, if it’s cold outside and you’re their bedroom has a space heater, remind them to keep their door closed to keep heat from escaping.
In warmer conditions, make sure they have their windows closed while the air conditioner is running. Letting in warm air while the air conditioner is running makes it work that much harder.
During sunny days, remind them to keep their curtains closed to prevent excess heat from entering the house (once again, this makes your air conditioner run more efficiently).
As for the kitchen, place a sticky note on the refrigerator door remind them to open and close it as quickly as possible. An inquisitive child may ask you why this is important. Simply tell them that the longer a refrigerator door stays open, the more cold air escapes which makes it work harder which, in turn, uses more energy.
Offer Fun and Cool Rewards
Nothing works better at motivating kids than offering rewards. So as you’re teaching them about good energy conservation habits, use a reward chart to keep track of their accomplishments.
It’s really up to you as to how to use the chart. It would make sense to use stars to keep track of their progress. And once they reach a pre-defined number of stars, reward them with something fun to do.
Have Them Do As You Say… And As You Do
As time goes on, your kids truly will have better habits when it comes to conserving energy. And here’s one final tip — make sure you’re setting a good example by practicing what you preach.