Monday, 13 June 2011

5 Things to Teach your Kids about Saving Energy this winter

As the weather cools down, it's worth considering that whilst you might be well aware of all the tricks to keep your house nice and warm, your children might be throwing all your hard work out the window! Causing your heating or electricity bills to sky rocket.

No matter how young they are, it's never too soon to start teaching them about how to conserve energy and getting them involved in 'helping Mummy & Daddy save energy'.  Getting to grips with the basics early will not only help keep you stay in control of your bills today, but will allow you to develop these skills further as the children grow and become more aware of the concept of saving energy.

1) Close the door behind you
OK so this isn't always practical depending on how old they are, but the concept is important, especially this time of year. Start with the front door, which often closes from the inside, so it's easier to push closed rather than needing to reach the handle. Just watch for tiny fingers.

2) Use Draft Excluders on external doors
You may not already have these, but they are a fun addition that can teach children about drafts. They are often in the shape of a snake and even if you don't want to buy them, they can be made with your child as a fun activity out of an old stocking, old pillow filling and some buttons for eyes. Each night before they go to bed, get into a routine of 'Putting the snakes to bed' in their home by the door.

Courtesy of
3) Wrapping up in warm clothes
It often surprises me when I come across my adult friends wondering around in their homes wearing T-Shirts and Shorts in the winter, but have their air con or heaters cranked up heating the house. It seems so
un-necessary when a few layers of clothes could be all they need! Get your kids used to wrapping up well during the winter months. Teach them that Winter is for 'Warm Clothes' and get them to dress their teddies or dolls (depending on their age) in warm outfits during winter too. Getting them used to this concept now might stop them from grabbing for the
air-con remote quite so quickly as they get older!

4) Spot the Light Left On!
Ok so this isn't just something to consider during winter, but with shorter days we do tend to use our lights more often during the day & into the night. Younger children may not all be able to reach for the switch themselves, but that doesn't mean they can't be taught to keep an eye out for lights left on. Encourage them to spot any lights left on and if necessary give them a lift up to help them switch off the light themselves. It will help them to learn the difference between a light left on in an empty room and a light left on when someone is using it (which is obviously ok and doesn't need to be turned off, or your could think about installing a Skylight System instead ;-)

5) Wear your rubber boots & raincoat if playing outside after rain 
Not only is this common sense from a 'keeping them warm' point of view, especially if it's been raining. But if they are wearing more clothes due to the cold weather and they all get muddy and filthy, then thats double the amount of clothes that need to be washed & dried! All kids love to play in the mud & puddles, but we can encourage them to be better equipped for this type of play then it really will save time & money when it comes time to cleaning up after them.

As any parent knows, making something like this into a game can really help to get the child's buy in and cooperation. So depending on the age of the child, you could put a board up in your kitchen, with each of the 5 areas listed above, along the top and each child's name down the side. Then award the kids a star each time they do one of these tasks.

A Gold star perhaps, for completing a task automatically (without having to be asked) and maybe a Silver star for doing something after they have been asked.  If they are slightly older with younger siblings you could even award a different colour star for encouraging a younger sibling to complete a task. This is just one idea of course, I'm sure you could come up with more interesting suggestions. We'd love to hear from you if you have found something that has really worked in your family!

What is more important to you?