Any parent of young kids will know they are an energy drain. We’re not talking about your sleep levels (although you have our sympathy). We’re talking about the fact that your efforts to reduce energy usage is somewhat hampered by the young occupants of your home.
Kids are notorious for leaving lights on, flinging open doors in winter, and generally zapping energy wherever they go. So how do we tackle energy efficiency for kids? Read on to see our top energy saving tips for kids:
Consider it a work in progress, but by educating them about the impact of energy saving, and then you’ll get some buy-in. This hopefully should render your nagging to be less necessary, and less futile.
While it is undoubtedly important that they are aware that leaving lights on and other poor energy-saving behaviours cost money, it won’t necessarily yield the result you’re after.
Instead, educate them about the bigger picture. To them, flick the switch and light magically appears. So go back to the source. Teach them about electricity and where it comes from.
Explain to them how natural resources are often non-renewable and what this means. You can also go down the ecological impact route if you think this will appeal to their better nature.
A lot of energy saving tips for kids come down to changing bad habits. The biggest of these is switching things off when they are done with them. This is true whether it’s their bedroom light when they are out for the day, or remembering to switch off their gadgets after use.
This is all about routine and second-nature. Therefore, prompt, remind and follow-through on consequences. If you are getting desperate, you could fine them a small amount of pocket money to get them to connect to the concept that wasting energy costs money.
Alternatively, you could set up an energy saving reward chart where they get stickers for remembering to switch things off.
While fun in the tub is a wonderful part of young childhood, the tub doesn’t need to be chest-deep! Reduce the amount of water used.
Additionally, once your child is old enough, it is a good idea to switch them to having regular showers instead.
Showering uses considerably less energy. According to the Energy Saving Trust, a family of four could save £20 a year on gas, and £25 a year on water, if they took showers instead of baths.
Furthermore, it might take a great deal of shoe-horning to get a reluctant washer into the shower, but once they are in, they tend to stay until their skin resembles a raisin. Therefore, time their showers and limit them to 5 minutes.
Don’t assume a child knows that leaving an electrical item on standby is still eating energy. Take a walk around the home and point out everything that’s silently chomping through energy just by being on standby.
Get them on board by encouraging them to be the ‘standby police’! This also involves them being on the look-out for when devices and rechargeable gadgets have reached full charge and unplugging them.
Children bundle out of the door to the garden, or to jump in the car for school, often leaving a trail of destruction and an open door in their wake. It’s important they know that if they open a door, they are responsible for shutting it.
Houses take a fair old chunk of energy to heat, so you don’t want to be losing it straight out of the back door.
Another door which kids are all too keen to leave open in the fridge and freezer doors. Every time we open these doors, the temperature within rises and more energy is needed to get it back to optimal temperature. The longer the door is open, the more energy that is needed.
Discourage kids from standing-browsing the contents of the fridge or freezer for food or ice creams rather than making their decision before they open the door.
Perhaps have a 10-second timer next to the door to make it a fun ninja-like challenge.
If your child knows where the thermostat is and isn’t afraid to use it, then it’s time to ban them from touching it! Instead, if they are cold, it’s time to layer up.
Keep jumpers where they can reach and remind them to pop one on. Similarly, if it’s hot, encourage them to have a cool drink and remove a layer before switching that fan on.
Reducing the need to make materials from scratch ultimately saves energy. Modern kids should be familiar with the concept of recycling different products such as plastic and paper. Encourage them to be part of your household recycling routine.
Have different bins where they can easily sort their rubbish. Young children love sorting and posting objects so this is an ideal task for even the smallest of children.
Don’t expect perfection overnight. Just like every other area of parenting, this is about the long haul and progress over time.
Help them out by mirroring the energy efficiency you want them to adopt. Make sure you have energy efficient light bulbs and take steps to improve your energy efficiency such as through regular boiler servicing.
Kids can’t help but get excited by a game of I Spy. Play this energy-saving version. If you spot something that’s switch on which shouldn’t be, it’s their job to spot it.
Perhaps use the game as a chance to point out other energy efficiency for kids ideas they haven’t yet spotted.
Energy saving tips for kids needn’t be complicated, but they are good habits to form. Encourage them with praise and reward, and you’ll soon have them on board and helping to reduce your household bills.