With the influx of electronic devices and other items, we live in an age where, now more than ever, we need to be really vigilant when it comes to energy consumption and efficiency. We also need to make sure we’re teaching our children how to be conscious of the energy they’re using as well as ways to be more energy-conscious. We’ve already started teaching K, who is 3, about how he can help the environment and save energy. With April being Earth Month, I decided it’s the perfect time to write about teaching children to be energy-efficient, and also offering a special deal through Hydro One and Ecobee to save huge on energy costs while also helping the Earth.
This is a big one, especially with all of the water shortages in the world. We’re lucky in North America to be surrounded by the Great Lakes, which provide 84% of North America’s surface fresh water and about 21% of the world’s supply of surface fresh water. Incredible. But we need to make sure we protect these vital sources and not waste water. We talk to K about how important it is to save water so that everyone has some and so that all our “friends” in the lakes don’t run out of water. Now he’s pretty aware about not letting the tap run, saying “we need to save the water for the turtles” Some tips for teaching kids about saving water include:
- Turn Off the Taps – Don’t leave the tap running while you brush your teeth or wash your hands. Turn it off while you brush, then back on again to rinse. Likewise when washing your hands; turn it off to lather up. This might not seem like much, but it adds up quickly.
- Buy a Water Filter/Purifier for the Home – Don’t waste your money buying bottled water. Not only is it no better for you than most tap water, but the plastic bottles it comes in require a lot of energy to make and are harmful to the environment. This will teach our children to reduce the amount of plastic we use. Purchase some reusable water bottles like Klean Kanteen so you can fill up before leaving the house. There are many options for decent water filters or purifiers depending on your budget.
- Take Shorter Showers – This is a big one. Trying to limit your showers to 5 minutes if possible will make a huge difference. You can talk about this with your children and if they’re already showering, make sure they keep them short. If they’re still having baths, like my guy is, make sure you monitor the tub while it’s running and only fill it up as much as necessary, explaining to them about saving water.
Electronics and Lights
This is a big area where we can teach our children about energy-efficiency. Here are some ideas:
- Shut Off Lights – One of the most obvious ones is just turning off lights as you leave each room. Make it a habit. We have small stools in many rooms in the house as K loves to get up on them to turn off the lights himself. Give kids the opportunity to help do little things like this.
- Unplug Appliances – When not in use, unplug those appliances. We keep our blender and toaster unplugged, only plugging them in when they’re in use. We also unplug power bars or large electronics like our TV and computer when they’re not in use. You’d be surprised at the amount of energy appliances and electronics use even when just plugged in. Explain to your children why you’re doing this and let them help turn things off at night before bed.
- Let In Natural Light – During the day, open up the blinds and curtains for natural light and try to keep as many lights off as possible inside the home. Sunlight is much better anyway! Start the morning by opening up your child’s curtains or blinds to welcome the day. We now have a habit of doing this so my son can say good morning to the sun:)
- Change the Bulbs Together – Let your kids come with you to buy energy-efficient lightbulbs and explain why they’re important. Likewise, teach them about recycling them when they burn out. If they’re old enough, let your children help by changing out the bulbs. You can also save a lot of money by replacing regular bulbs with fluorescent ones.
- Go Electricity-free – Take an hour or so once in a while to turn off the lights, light the candles and have a good old-fashioned family time. Tell stories by candlelight or in a neat fort like this starry night one from Natural Beach Living. Play a board-game, take a walk together, or sit outside on a nice night. If it’s dark out, rely on solar-powered lights or a campfire. This will give you some fun time together as a family while also teaching children about the importance of saving energy.
- Forego the Dryer – In nice or warm weather, give the dryer (and your wallet) a break and line-dry your laundry. Invest in a decent-sized clothes dryer for outside so you can hang big items like sheets. In the summer, we try to line-dry almost everything. You can also hang clothes inside in the colder months.
Along with turning off lights and limiting the amount of water used, there are other things you can do to teach children about being more energy-efficient:
- Close the Fridge – Once K learned how to open the refrigerator by himself to get out food, I’d often find it open a few minutes later as he forgot to close it. Teach children about how keeping the fridge and freezer open wastes energy and show them how to close it right away.
- Do Laundry at Cheaper Times – Where we live, energy and water costs are cut in half after 7pm and on weekends, so we rarely ever do laundry during the peak times. Teach children about this by making the weekends laundry time and letting them help. K really enjoys doing laundry with us and folding dry towels and cloths.
- Cut Back on the Car – Try to walk, ride your bikes or even carpool as much possible. If you can do errands on your bike instead, even better. Picking up a bike trailer for the kids will also give you space to put in items like simple groceries.
- Shop Local – Buy less items in plastic and explain to your children why it’s important to do this. If possible, shop at local farmer’s markets where all the produce is fresh and not packaged up in plastic. Let them help pick out the good produce. Make sure you bring your cloth bags with you.
- Use Fans – In the summer, try to use ceiling fans as much as possible to cool the house before turning on the air conditioner. Keeping windows open for a breeze and using fans also creates better indoor air quality.
Get a Smart Thermostat to Celebrate Earth Month!
Invest in a programmable thermostat. Show your older children how to program the thermostat and explain to younger kids what you’re doing – making the temperature lower at night when it comes to winter and turning the air off or keeping it lower at night in the summer. Explain how this helps save energy as well as money. Programmable thermostats also give you the freedom to control temperatures when you’re away, keeping energy costs down. I love the look of Ecobee‘s new programmable thermostats and they are amazing at helping reduce hydro costs. Using an Ecobee thermostat will save you an average of 23% of your annual energy costs – that’s huge! Plus, until the end of April, you can save up to $150 on a smart thermostat. Head over to the Ecobee store to purchase the ecobee3, ecobee Smart Si or the ecobee3 Smarter Bundle and automatically save $25 when you enter the code h1save25a at checkout between April 1 and 30. If you are a Hydro One customer, you can earn an additional $100 by applying to enroll your thermostat in Hydro One’s Bring Your Own Thermostat pilot program by April 30 and agreeing to let Hydro One make brief, limited adjustments to your Wi-Fi thermostat during times of peak electric demand. You can also earn an additional $25 if you fill out three brief surveys regarding your participation.*
Smart thermostats help you save energy, money, and the planet.
- Reduce your cooling bills and increase comfort through automatic smart scheduling
- Adjust settings from anywhere – connects to your phone, computer and tablet
- Easy to install and program
* Note that in order to participate, you must be a Hydro One customer, and your Wi-Fi thermostat must be connected to a central air conditioning system. Heat pump systems other than air source are not eligible for the pilot.