4 Ways to Teach Children About Energy Efficiency

Just as some kids seem to think money grows on trees, many young people don't understand where the electricity that powers their gaming consoles comes from or how energy use impacts the world. From understanding how electricity is made to helping make sure your home is energy-efficient, here are some fun and engaging ways you can instill energy-saving practices in your children, which will save money on your energy bills and just may help save the environment.

Flip a Switch

One of the smartest and easiest ways for any family to save energy is to make sure lights are off in rooms that are unoccupied. So whether that means putting sticky notes on walls near light switches, fining your child every time you see a violation, or setting up a competition about which kid can turn the lights off the most, you should immediately work to establish this routine in your home.

In addition to turning off unnecessary lights, teach your kids other good energy-use habits. These can include unplugging game consoles that are not being used or not keeping devices like smartphones and tablets plugged in at all times.

Get Technical

If you have a mechanically inclined child, consider buying them a circuit board kit . These relatively inexpensive kits provide kids a hands-on demonstration of how electricity works. Easy-to-follow directions give kids a basic understanding of the science behind electricity, and because the kits are battery-powered rather than plugging into the wall, they are safe enough for children to experiment and try to create their own electrical masterpieces.

Buy Them Off

Sit down with your kids and go over your family's most recent energy bills. Explain to them many of the wasteful practices that can needlessly increase these bills — such as taking long showers, leaving doors open to rooms that are not in use, and raising or lowering the thermostat temperature.

Next, make a deal with your kids that for every dollar they help take off those bills, they'll see a resulting bump in their allowance. You'll want to set some sort of limit or formula, but if they see the results in cold, hard cash, they're likely to become even more invested in saving energy.

Let Them Fix It

Teach your kids safe routine maintenance tasks, such as changing air filters in HVAC appliances , emptying lint traps, and even applying caulk to windows. Which tasks are appropriate will depend on the age of the child and the location of the equipment around your home, but establishing good habits early will help your energy bills now and will help ensure your kids have some practical life skills for the future.

It can be difficult for young people who haven't yet had to support themselves in the real world to understand how their activities can directly impact the energy they're using — and the resulting cost to power those activities. By teaching them about the principles behind energy production, use, and conservation, you can not only improve the efficiency of your home but help your children build strong problem-solving and budgeting skills.

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