Instilling energy-saving habits early
By Miranda Boutelle
Q: I’m trying to reduce my energy use, and I want my kids to start energy-saving habits as well. How can I encourage them to use less electricity at home?
A: Educating kids on energy use and costs can help engage them in your family’s goal to use less electricity. They can be electric conservation champions if you ask them to help.
Show your children how to read the electric bill. Focus on what you can control: kilowatt-hour use. If they are old enough, teach them how to do the math. You can calculate kWh use by multiplying wattage by hours used and dividing by 1,000. Multiply this by the kWh rate found on your electric bill to estimate how much you spend on power for each household appliance.
For household appliance wattage, look for the amount stamped on the bottom, back or nameplate. If the nameplate does not include wattage, figure it out by multiplying the voltage by the amperage.
To teach children the impact of saving energy, have them help you conserve with the household’s biggest energy-consuming appliances: heating and cooling. Teach kids to dress appropriately for the seasons, even when they are indoors, which allows you to set the thermostat to balance comfort and savings. The second-highest use of electricity is typically the electric water heater. Use a shower timer so bigger kids can monitor how long they are in the shower. Teach them to wash their clothes with cold water. If you have a gas water heater, look at the gas bill to find opportunities to save.
Other ways to save include turning off the lights when you leave the room. The more we switch to LED lighting, the less savings associated. Yet even little changes can add up throughout the year. If your child needs a nightlight to sleep with, make sure it’s an LED bulb.
Powering down gaming stations and computers is another way to save. In the kitchen, keep the refrigerator door shut. Teach kids to take a quick peek and shut the door while they think about their snack options.
You can also teach children where the electricity for their home comes from. Check out your electric co-op’s website or give them a call to find out what energy sources power your home.
Miranda Boutelle writes on energy efficiency topics for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.