A new year means new resolutions, and, for many, this means a renewed effort to live more efficiently. Luckily, this doesn’t have to mean a battle between you, the resolution keeper, and your household, the energy squanderers. Together you and your children can find fun ways to get involved in the movement for greener living. 2012 saw a Lorax-inspired surge in environmental awareness for kids. It’s up to you to team up in picking up where Dr.Seuss left off. Here are three easy and fun ways to inspire and involve kids in the movement for energy efficiency.
Make it a Contest!
It’s one thing to encourage shutting off lights, fans and electronics when they aren’t in use. While your enthusiasm will undoubtedly spur them to participate for a day or so, it can be harder for kids to see the big picture. This is where friendly competition can really get children motivated. Make energy efficiency a fun contest to see who can be the greenest of them all. Seeing as how sibling rivalry can get tricky enough, I’d recommend the ultimate showdown of kids versus adults. The adults could be awarded with a quiet afternoon or free carwash from the kids. If the kids win, a pizza night or trip to the movies is totally justified. Post a score sheet on the refrigerator and record each team’s everyday energy use. Everything from watching television to leaving a phone charger plugged in when not in use. The visual of the score sheet will help everyone to see where the most energy is being spent and encourage alternatives. Award extra points for energy-friendly activities like reading, playing outside, recycling and walking the dog.
Visuals & Goals
Energy bills can add up. It’s hard for children to understand just how much money is being spent each month without a proper visual. Just remember to keep it simple. If your bill was $146.18 this month, physically lay out $146.18 on the table. Show them all of the money that has to be sent away each month to power all of the electronics and appliances in your home. Agree on and set a savings goal for the entire family. Kids love being a part of a team, and a united effort will inspire them. If you want to knock $20 off of next month’s bill, brainstorm energy saving ideas (shorter showers, running the air conditioner less or at more efficient temperatures, turning off unused lights, etc.) and make a unified commitment to living more efficiently.
Plant a Tree
Ride the Lorax wave while you can. Planting a tree can be a fun activity for any kid who wants to save the environment (and likes to dig in the dirt!). Not to mention, strategically planting a young shade tree will eventually result in more energy savings for your family. A good spot for a shade tree is where it will block direct sunlight through windows or doors on hot summer days. As your new tree grows taller and casts more shade, your air conditioner won’t have to work as hard to cool your home down.
It’s easy to make energy-friendly and environmentally friendly living fun for children. Working together to keep up motivation can really unite a household (and result in big savings on energy bills). If you ever need a little extra help inspiring the younger ones in your family, take a note from everyone’s favorite rhyming storyteller. “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.” Whether your goals are efficiency or environmentally fueled, you and the children in your life can always work together and make big improvements!