5 simple ways to teach younger children how to save energy (and money!) around the home
The combination of rapidly climbing electricity and gas costs and the increased cost of living have created a perfect storm for parents, leaving many with the necessary but somewhat imposing task of educating their children about energy—and most importantly, how to save it.
It’s not always easy to know how to teach children about the topic in an engaging, fun and light-hearted way. So, Love Energy Savings, a UK-based company that allows businesses and homeowners to compare energy suppliers, has compiled a list of five simple ways you can educate your children on energy savings:
You may not have thought of this, but adding a simple step stool so that younger children can access the light switches in rooms can be a great way of teaching our offspring from a young age to turn the light off when they leave a room.
As our children develop, they naturally want to get involved and mimic what we do—this is a great way to instill a habit from a young age. Adding simple reward tools like a sticker chart into money or energy saving activities can turn this kind of activity into a game (e.g., turn the light off every time you leave a room five days in a row and you earn yourself an extra $1 of allowance or a sweet treat).
We all know that children are extremely perceptive, so when talking to them about energy, the last thing you want to do is burden them with any potential stress linked to the issue. This is obviously easier said than done, but trying to link the subject to topics they are interested in (or TV or YouTube presenters they are familiar with) is a great way to divert the issue away from any anxiety and towards something fun and engaging.
For a lot of us, our children are more aware of climate change than we ever were, so aligning turning off the lights when leaving a room with something David Attenborough would do, for example, is a great way to make a task less of a "because I said so" and more of a light-hearted way to mimic possible childhood heroes.
For smaller children, take a leaf out of Toy Story's book: if your toddler is obsessed with dinosaurs, recent research has suggested that some dinos were actually nocturnal—encourage them to turn the lights off so they can come back into the room to see their toys come to life (though some children may find this frightening, so be sure to make your own judgment call here!).
There's a lot of amazing information online that you can use to introduce children to energy and energy saving. One of the best resources we have found is NASA's Climate Kids which is full of engaging content about energy and the climate.
There's also plenty of cool videos, like this one from EnergySage on YouTube, which is a great child-friendly introduction to solar energy. With YouTube being a big hit with kids, they'll be more likely to engage with the topic if it's presented in a format and on a platform they're used to and understand.
To get the whole family involved, make energy saving and education into a fun treasure hunt!
Give each child (and adult!) a question sheet with clues about where the answers are hidden. Each time the right answer is found, they get given a single letter.
By the end of the hunt, the child will have letters that make up a word for a location in your house, e.g "blanket box". They can then venture to this location, and find a card with some information, plus an instruction—for example:
"Switching the TV off completely can save you up to $20 a year! Your mission is to switch off anything around the house that's not being used and report back to the kitchen for your reward".
Once they've completed the task to your satisfaction, they get a prize! This is a great one for rainy days and something that can subtly weave energy saving into your daily conversation in a positive way.
We are all able to see evidence of how we use energy in our everyday lives. Maybe you live close to a power station or can see solar panels on your neighbor's roof (or hopefully your own!). Perhaps you're out and about and spot an electric vehicle (EV) charging point in a carpark—take the time to point it out to children and explain what it is and why it's important.
Children absorb information all the time from their surroundings so make the most of each opportunity to help them notice the physical presence of energy generation, conservation and utility in your home and outside. If your children have questions and you're not sure of the answer, find out together through helpful resources like EnergySage’s content library!