HowToSpeakKey Points

  • Talk to your kids about how “small” electric costs can add up.
  • Involve them in household energy efficiency projects.
  • Show how small steps can have a big impact.

Parenting isn’t easy. With days packed with activities, it is sometimes hard to find time to talk to your kids about real issues. But the lessons kids learn now will stay with them for the rest of their lives. One of those lessons you might want to make time for is energy and how your kids can save energy. What should you tell kids about saving energy? What we’ll talk about is why those simple steps are so important.

Saving Energy Saves Money
Electricity costs money. If you show your kids your utility bill, you can discuss how much of that amount you’re paying is spent for them to watch TV, use a computer, or play video games. Your kids may think that it’s only a little money they’d help save. They’re right, it is a little money. But if you do this over and over, not just once but every week or month or year, that little bit will add up to a lot.

It Isn’t Hard To Do
You’ve probably heard all the most common tips: turn off lights and appliances, don’t set the thermostat too high in winter or too low in summer, put on a sweater and so on. Nearly all of the simple tips you’re familiar with are easy to do. That doesn’t mean that we all do them regularly, though. That’s the hard part. When turning off a light becomes something you and your kids do without thinking about it, you’re living an energy efficient lifestyle.

We Can Do This Together
Set a good example by living by the steps you teach. Even better, there are things you can do with your children.

Check the insulation in your attic
Your attic is the last stop for hot air, as it rises on its way out of your house. If your attic has good insulation, the heat won’t be wasted. The insulation in your attic should be at least six inches thick, though a full foot is better.

Replace inefficient light bulbs with compact fluorescent or LED lights
Did you know compact fluorescent (CFL) and LED lights use as little as one-tenth of the electricity of a regular light bulb? They also last a lot longer. Your kids can change these lights themselves; it’s no different from changing an ordinary light bulb.

Change your furnace filter
Your furnace filter picks up all sorts of dust when air circulates through your house. Over time, that filter gets clogged up and air has a harder time passing through. Your filter should be changed at least once in a year, though four or more times is a lot better, and it’s a simple step your kids can participate in.

Set the thermostat for comfort
In summertime, don’t set the thermostat below 74°; that’s plenty comfortable. (In fact, on many days, you may not need air conditioning at all. A fan may provide all the cooling you need.) In wintertime, keep the thermostat below 68°. If it feels cool, a sweater or long-sleeved shirt will provide all the extra warmth you need. You can save additional money if you install a programmable thermostat, which can reduce heating and cooling bills as much as ten percent.

Check your water heater
Your home’s water heater has a yellow EnergyGuide label, which will tell you how much electricity it uses compared to other heaters.

Windows can be energy wasters, too
If your home’s windows have only one glass pane, they’re probably letting a lot of heat in (or out) of your home. Double-pane windows are much better at insulating your house. During cold weather months, you can add insulation by putting clear plastic over windows. This keeps cold air from seeping into your house. You can get the kids involved in choosing what windows to cover, and then have them help tape the plastic in place.

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