Making Energy Savings a Family Affair - Accent Energy, New York
Kids don't understand the need to keep those energy bills down. Even teenagers, most of whom have a vague sense of fiscal responsibility, sometimes have trouble pitching in to minimize their family's use of electricity. Yes, nearly every parent has lectured their children about the basics. (Don't leave windows open when the air conditioner is running!) Unfortunately, lectures don't always work.
There are two big reasons to involve your children in energy conservation measures. First: you want to save money by reducing the amount of electricity you use. Second: you want your children to grow up with a sense of environmental and social responsibility. Here are some fun and painless ways to help family members of all ages accomplish these two goals:
Kids (the years they think you know everything)
Children like to play with language and they have an intuitive grasp of music. Take advantage of these two qualities by turning your lectures into songs or rhymes. For example, when your little one leaves his or her room without switching off the light, turn them around and sing, "When not in use, turn off the juice!" Kids often leave the television on when they decide to do something else. The next time they make that mistake, remind them: "When you go out to play, turn off the TV, okay?"
Kids love customizing their living space. They'll be more likely to turn off their bedroom light if you give them a switch plate with their favorite cartoon character. If your child is old enough, you can even make it a parent/child do-it-yourself project.
With their schedules filled with playing, sleeping and enjoying the freedom of youth, children don't have a good understanding of their impact on your energy bills. Sit them down with a recent electric bill and explain what all the numbers mean. They probably won't understand everything, but they'll appreciate being treated like a grownup.
Tweens and Teens (the years they think they know everything)
Young people in this age group love their electronic devices. What they might not know is that all of those battery chargers draw slight amount of currents when plugged in, even when their cell phone is in their pocket. Convince them to unplug these chargers when not in use. If they don't believe you, have them touch the charger. It's a little warm because it's using electricity.
Tie your energy saving efforts into their chore list. After they finish doing dishes or taking out the trash, enlist their help as you install a motion detector on your exterior security lights. Before they get their weekly allowance, show them how to install a dimmer switch in your dining room.
Teens might not think about it, but squeezing the most out of every dollar is a necessity during adulthood. Driving a car is a mark of maturity that teens do like to think about. Connect these two responsibilities. When your teenager starts asking to get their driver's license, remind them that someone responsible enough to drive is also responsible enough to turn off the pool heater at night.
Unite as a family
If you're going to get children on board with energy savings, you'll have to set a good example. Emphasize to kids that the whole family must work together to make the most of the energy you consume. Post your monthly energy bills on the refrigerator to show them how much of the family budget is spent keeping the lights on.
Make it a challenge. Most power bills show month-to-month and year-to-year usage. See if you and the kids can decrease your monthly electricity charges by ten percent below the figure from the year before. If the goal is met, order pizza or arrange for another fun reward.
Go through the home as a family and figure out where you can use power strips to reduce passive electricity usage. Just as your teens must keep their cell phone chargers unplugged when not in use, your laptop and big-screen TV and other appliances can do the same thing. Plug these appliances into power strips wherever possible and simply flick the power switch off when you're not cruising the Internet or watching the big game.
Make some tough sacrifices. Even though you and your family may love nice, hot showers, you can save lots of energy by simply turning your water heater down by a few degrees. Even a five-degree reduction in the water temperature can keep a lot of money in your pocket.
As is the case with any important task, it's easier to conserve energy if you and your family work together. Use these and other fun ideas to get the job done.