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5 Ways to Teach Your Kids to Save Energy

Submitted by on December 9, 2013 – 7:28 amOne Comment

How to encourage kids to save energy

How to Encourage Kids to Save Energy

by Abigail Clark

When it comes to raising kids, it’s important to teach them healthy habits from a young age. We start teaching them to use their manners, and to otherwise communicate effectively around the time they begin to talk. Potty training, teeth brushing, hand washing, and other important habits are lessons they typically learn while they’re very young, as well.

As you’re teaching these important practices to your kids, why not also teach them to be smart energy consumers? Parents who teach their kids to be energy-conscious consumers from a tender age will undoubtedly impact the next generation of consumers. Here are a few ways to do just that.

Set a Good Example

As parents, it’s easy to forget, or at least underestimate, the way our children look up to us and mimic our actions. Parents and caregivers serve as most kids’ primary role models during formative years. As such, the daily habits parents practice rub off on their kids, whether they realize it or not.

So to help your kids develop good habits when it comes to energy savings, practice what you preach. Make sure to routinely flip off lights when no one is in the room, take care to not waste water while you complete chores, and close exterior doors quickly when you enter and leave the premises.

Only run the washing machine and dishwasher with full loads, install a low-flow shower head, and avoid running the kitchen oven for long periods of time during the summer months. As your kids grow older, occasionally point out these actions to make sure they see that they should be doing the same.

Start Early

The habits that are hardest to break are the ones that we’ve had for a long time. To avoid having to break your kids of bad habits, teach them good ones from the get-go. Consider this: You gently remind them to say “please” and “thank you” when they ask for things, and to say “excuse me” when it’s necessary.

In the same way, teach and remind them to turn off lights as they exit rooms, to shut off the water faucet while they wash their hands or brush their teeth, and to avoid opening the refrigerator unnecessarily. Combined with good energy conservation habits by the whole family, your search for the most affordable energy suppliers will help your family save on energy costs in no time.

Establish Age Appropriate Rules

Every household with children has family rules to live by and for good reason. Children thrive when we add a certain degree of structure to their daily lives and routines. In addition to family rules about crossing the street, bed times, and curfews for older children, also add rules about energy usage.

Make it a household rule that lights are to be turned off when there’s no one in the room and that the television should be turned off when no one’s watching it. You could even put a timer in the bathroom and make sure showers are kept within a reasonable time limit. Other rules to consider are restricting kids from accessing the thermostat, and keeping windows and doors closed at all times when the heat or air conditioning systems are running.

Talk to Your Kids

Keep an open dialogue with your kids, especially when it comes to household functions. Talk to them about what it takes to run the lights in your home and to clean the water that you use. Putting these issues in context will make the issue stand out in their minds as something to take seriously and to act on. Also, kids will be more likely to follow household rules if they understand why you’ve put them in place.

Keeping the line of communication fluid between you and your children will benefit your relationship exponentially. It’s especially helpful regarding energy conservation, because kids will likely feel more comfortable asking questions and sharing ideas about how to help.

Motivate Them

Of course, as with any household rules, energy conservation practices need to be encouraged consistently. To motivate your kids, try incorporating simple rewards.

  • A sticker chart: add a sticker every time your children remember to turn their light, TV, or fan off without being asked. A week’s effort could be rewarded with a monetary incentive or another favorite treat.
  • Allow your kids some extra time to play outside or with their toys if they remember to shut doors or windows.
  • Encourage them to share their knowledge about energy conservation with their friends and other family members. The praise they receive will make them feel good about what they are doing.
  • Make the reward something that the entire family can do together to maximize quality time spent together.

If your kids work best with consequences as motivation, implement a set of consequences that are age appropriate and will make the most impact for not following the household rules regarding energy conservation practices.

Since one of the biggest reasons you’re promoting energy conservation at home is to reduce your monthly utility bills, it might be counterproductive to reward those efforts with costly activities. Here are a few ideas that shouldn’t counteract the savings you’ve incurred together.

  • Have a family movie night in which the kids choose the movie and get to stay up late to watch it.
  • Make a special dessert or favorite dinner chosen by the kids.
  • Let them off the hook for chores for a week.
  • Host a sleepover and have them invite their closest friends for a night of movies, food, and good times.

Kids learn most habits, good and bad, from their parents and caregivers. You’re the source from which they will learn what is and is not acceptable behavior in society. Setting a good example, setting rules, and sticking by them make up the framework for teaching kids to save energy. What practices would you have liked to have seen on this list? Please feel free to share any methods you’ve tried that were effective in teaching your kids proper energy conservation habits at home.

Abigail ClarkAbigail Clark is an upcoming freelance writer. She graduated from The University of South Florida with a bachelors in marketing, minoring in journalism. When she isn’t up to her neck in coupons she is enjoying the outdoors fishing. She loves doing reviews for technology, home products and beauty products. Find Abigail on Twitter at @downtownabby17.

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