The weather is cooling off for just about everyone, and that means switching on the heat….and adding $$ to the electric bill. Guest poster, Jakob Barry, has some helpful suggestions for getting parents and kids to save energy (and money!) together.
We’ve all been there before. It’s a cold winter night, the winds are blowing outside and the house isn’t as toasty warm as we’d like. Nevertheless, instead of turning up the heat we make an adult decision to put on another layer and have a hot drink.
However, when kids are involved finding solutions to being cold can be a bit trickier and it’s sometimes not so easy to explain why mommy and daddy would prefer the above next to raising the temperature.
That’s why in order to help our children grow up being more efficient energy minded it’s important we as parents understand some of the basics ourselves.
Most home heating is generated by either electricity, the burning of fuel such as oil, or sometimes solar panels. When heat from one of these systems is produced and is trying to fill the confines of an interior there are two big obstacles it may come up against: poor distribution and poor containment.
Obstacles to efficient heating
- Poor distribution: This can happen when air gets caught in radiators and they need to be bleed or the system generating the heat needs to be serviced. Either situation means some rooms may warm nicely while others will not.
- Poor containment: Many times heat escapes through cracks around windows and doors or through non-insulated walls. Alternatively cool air drafts may enter from outside changing the inside temperature drastically.
In both cases the likely result is higher heating bills since systems experiencing these issues would be working harder to keep a home warm. This is especially true when it comes to programmable thermostats that are trying to maintain a certain temperature.
A home heating analogy
An analogy for kids would be trying to blow up a balloon yet constantly having to refill it with more breaths because air is leaking through a small hole. Whereas a person would simply pass out your heating system would keep working but the extra stress means it will use more fuel and financial resources.
So, in the spirit of better efficiency and lower bills here are a few suggestions to getting the kids on the energy savings bandwagon:
- Create awareness: Have the family take a quick tour of places in the home familiarizing kids with nooks and crannies where drafts may exist. Point out where drafts are located by lighting a candle and holding it near cracks. When the flame starts flickering it’s a sign of a draft that requires attention. Also, go over other basics like why it’s important not to prolong keeping the door open when coming and going and to shut windows tight after use.
- Talk options: As adults do their job sealing up drafts by themselves or hiring a handyman have the kids come up with their own ways of staying warm that don’t involve using more energy. Some could include drinking soup, hot cocoa, and covering up with blankets or wearing a hat. When doing homework they could even use a lamp with an incandescent bulb which gives off more heat than a compact florescent light bulb (CFL). True, CFLs are energy savers but a low wattage incandescent probably wouldn’t make much of a difference for the amount of time it would take to finish the evening’s exercises.
- Make a checklist: Along with heaters list all the things in the home like cell phone chargers, video games, and many other types of electronics that don’t need to be running twenty four hours a day. Distribute copies to everyone as reminders to unplug these devices so they don’t stay in use all night. This can even be incorporated into a nighttime checklist to go along with brushing and flossing.
- Institute a goal oriented reward system: Instead of giving a reward for a job well done cutting costs each day, opt for something more long term. For example, make a chart to record points for good energy usage that children can redeem for certain prizes at a later date like the first day of spring. That way not only will they be internalizing some good habits along the way but you’ll also be teaching them a thing or two about the fruits of hard work, effort, and patience.
What are some ways that you get your kids involved and motivated to save energy?
Images from 123RF Stock Photos