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“Did you turn off the lights in your room?” “We’re not paying to cool the whole neighborhood!” With school out for the summer, parents will be uttering these phrases to their children countless times each day. Despite best efforts, it can be tough to help kids understand the importance of saving energy—and to put that knowledge into action. Few people have more experience talking about energy efficiency than the member services team at your electric cooperative. So we asked them how they persuade the toughest audience they face every day: their kids. Here are a few of their tips.
Deputize an “Energy Enforcer”
Assign children to investigate wasteful energy practices. Each week, give the appointed child a badge and empower him or her to seek out energy waste and hold the offending parties—including adults—accountable. Consider offering your little energy deputies a bounty for finding leaks, drafts and other wasteful energy practices around the house. Their progress can be tracked with stickers on a calendar, and when the kids reach their goal, they can be rewarded.
Colorful stickers or sticky notes on light switches help kids remember to turn off the lights when they leave a room. Sticky notes don’t just apply to light switches. Place notes labeled “Turn Me Off” and “Unplug Me” near game consoles, TVs and other electronics as a visual reminder.
Pay the Piper
For older children, perhaps a financial plan will work. Consider “fining” them 25 cents for each lightbulb left on in their rooms. A ceiling fan with four bulbs could lead to a costly mistake. Demonstrating the tangible cost of inefficient electricity use might be the way to get the lesson to stick. Show them the electric bill to help them understand why it’s important to use energy wisely. No matter what the approach, talking to kids about energy use is sure to pay dividends. They might not always follow through, but they’ll be learning important lessons about the value of energy and the importance of conservation that can last a lifetime.