Teaching your kids to be more energy efficient is important because it helps them develop beneficial habits early on. Once adopted, they will abide by these rules without thinking, which means that they won’t have to feel the pressure of having to readjust to a new way of things, like some of us have.
Then, there’s the pragmatic reason to teach your kids to be energy efficient. A light bulb in their room will waste as much energy as the one in your own bedroom. In other words, if you want to turn your home into a more energy-efficient place, you need to take a more holistic approach.
Most importantly, you should use these lessons to spend some quality time with your kids. If you can make it fun along the way, even better. Here are several ideas to help you out.
Make the Lesson Relatable
One of the biggest challenges in teaching your kids about being energy-efficient is not in explaining how but why this is so important. Sure, there are a lot of things that you say that your kids will take for granted. If you tell them to switch off the lights as they leave their room, the chances are that they won’t question this much. However, if you manage to explain why they should care, you can achieve far more.
Tell them about the way in which electricity is produced and about the limited resources on our planet. You would be surprised at just how much kids can understand. Then, show them, in a matter of a test, what it would be like to live in a world without electricity. Take a couple of hours per day without any electrical device whatsoever. Try to explain that while this may seem like a fun game, without enough responsibility, this could eventually become a regular thing.
Stage a Quiz
One of the ways to help them learn and develop awareness is to stage a quiz. This way, you can gamify the experience. You can further incentivize their learning process if you add prizes or, even better, prize tiers depending on the number of right answers.
For instance, whenever you try to teach them a lesson, tell them a number of important points that they should memorize. After you do X, you should always do Y in order to save energy. This way, you get to formulate questions in a simple form and check if they’ve really memorized something. If you create ambiguity while formulating a question, you won’t know for sure if they failed to memorize or if you’ve just confused them by being unclear.
Keep in mind that you need to take an active interest in their other educational pursuits. The chances are that their school or educational institution will have its own program on how to be more energy efficient. You can also check out this curriculum and ask questions based on it. This way, you’re also encouraging their formal education.
Find the Right Medium
It comes as no surprise that children are more receptive to mediums that they see as immersive and fun. In other words, they’re more likely to learn something if they see it in a cartoon, a video game, or a YouTube video. Fortunately for you, in today’s day and age, there’s no shortage of such content.
Cartoons like Sesame Street, Captain Planet, and The Octonauts are great for teaching your kids to be more environmentally friendly. You can also find Bill Nye the science guy for them online, and let them watch it. The show has aged like fine wine, and it might help your kids get a completely new perspective on the subject matter.
Naturally, you can go a step further and teach your kids to turn their consoles and computers off when not playing. Fortunately, all modern consoles have the save progressfunction, which means they can pick up where they left. If your kid is a PC gamer, you can get them an SSD which will reduce the time it takes to boot up and shut down their computer. Seeing as how this will make turning the device on and off easier, it will persuade them to do so more frequently.
Lead By Example
Everything you say will have a certain weight to it only if you live by your own rules. In other words, reprimanding your kids for not turning the lights off when they left the room and then forgetting to do so yourself doesn’t make the best impression.
Sure, you can turn this into a lesson, mention it as your fault and try to atone. However, asking them to do something that you, yourself, are not committed to will make you look hypocritical. In a way, it could even hurt your overall parenting efforts, not just your efforts to develop their energy efficiency awareness.
So, when embarking on this journey of teaching them this valuable lesson, you need to become an active part of the process. Remember, you all live in the same household. It doesn’t make that much of a difference who left the appliance on when the power bill arrives.
Aside from being a generally nice thing to do and great for the health of the planet, in the long run, there’s also a financial incentive for keeping home energy-efficient. Namely, when they abide by your rules, the power bill will come in much lower than it usually would. Why not add a couple of these saved dollars to their allowance?
Most importantly, when you increase their allowance by a bit, make sure that you mention that this is due to their power-saving discipline. To make things fairer and more effective, you should give them a percentage of the money saved. That way, when they are more disciplined, they get more.
Remember that you’re doing this together. Therefore, you should all reap the benefits. This is also a way to combine teaching them how to be financially responsible with teaching them about the importance of energy efficiency. In other words, these are the two of the most valuable lessons that they will ever learn.
Take It a Step Further
Energy efficiency is just a part of a larger environmental issue, so you might want to expand your lessons a bit and take a more holistic approach to the subject matter. For instance, you could help them understand how transportation increases pollution and how buying local goods makes a difference in the big picture.
You can also teach them a thing or two about the importance of having organic ingredients on your table. In fact, you can start (with their help) the organic vegetable and herbs garden. This is a simple trick that will be a lot of fun and convey a valuable lesson. It also increases the self-sustainability of vegan households. Overall, it’s something worth thinking about.
In the end, you need to understand that this lesson benefits your kids both directly and indirectly. They’re the ones who will inhabit this planet long after we’re gone, so it is your duty as a parent to teach them how to take care of it. Along the way, you will help them learn a thing or two about budgeting, health, and ethics. It’s a win-win-win scenario for every responsible parent out there.
About The Author
Stacey is a freelance writer living in Minnesota with her cat, and she’s passionate about yoga, languages, home improvement, and drinking strong coffee. Find her on Twitter @StaceyShann0n