Reducing our carbon footprint and going green are important for the current state of the environment, but also dramatically affects the future health of the planet that will be passed down to next generation.
While it is incredibly important to make energy conscious decisions and actively look for environmentally friendly choices, it is even more important to get children involved as they will be the ones who will hopefully continue the process of preserving resources and caring for the planet.
There are several ways to get children involved with saving energy and also using those moments of energy savings as teachable moments to carry on a discussion about energy usage.
1) The first step, and most visible, for children is to get them accustomed to turning off lights and appliances when they are not using them. Younger kids can use a step stool or simple light-switch extension to help them reach the light.
Discuss how flipping the light switch uses electrical energy to power it on. Also, encourage them to enjoy natural light during the daytime. Turning off toys, video games, the television, and so forth carry on this theme of turning off items that are not in use.
2) As children grow to be more independent parents can be frustrated with dripping taps left running. Talk to children about water as a natural resource and explain that taps are only turned on when using them, and turning them tightly off makes sure there is no waste.
As little hands sometimes lack the strength to turn knobs all the way off, this may call for parents checking taps for a time until it is determined that the child is able to turn the taps fully off.
3) “Shut the door” is a phrase parents utter more times than they care to admit. From the outside door to the refrigerator, leaving these doors open is a waste of energy.
Add in some humor, and clichés, by telling kids you are not paying to air-condition the whole town or refrigerate the kitchen. This adds a visual component to the message, by highlighting that an open exterior door is forcing the home air conditioner or heater to work harder and waste energy. As for the refrigerator, prompt kids to decide what they are looking for before opening the door to reduce the amount of time spent staring into the refrigerator.
4) When shopping explain how you consider energy savings in your purchases. LED light bulbs use less energy and last longer, explain this as well as the features of incandescent light bulbs and allow kids to decide which the better purchase is.When shopping for appliances again explain how some use less energy and ask questions to get kids involved.
This is preparing them to think about energy consciousness from all angles. If the family frequents farmer’s markets or buys local food, discuss how this also saves energy as the food has travelled less distance. Also, when shopping bring bags from home and explain how this is saving energy and resources by opting for a reusable bag.
5) Heating and cooling are two of the biggest energy costs for a home, discuss keeping the thermostat at set levels and explain how that reduces energy use and bills. If kids complain about the temperature ask them to think of other ways to warm up, such as putting on another pair of socks or a sweater, or cool off, by turning on a fan or making a fun paper fan.
Getting kids involved in conserving energy and discussing the benefits are two great steps in preparing them to be conscious energy users in the future. Allowing them to have input into family purchases and decisions also teaches them important thinking skills, how to work as a team, and builds confidence.
Natasha Risinger is an energy researcher. She blogs for eco related blogs and more. Visit http://www.texaselectricityproviders.com to find out more.