Efficiency 5: Making Energy Efficiency Fun for the Whole Family

Let’s face it. Summer can be a drag for kids looking for ways to kill time and hectic for adults looking for ways to keep them busy. It can also take a big toll on household energy bills, especially when the temps soar as they have the past couple weeks.

Try killing two birds with one stone: beat the boredom and escape the heat with this checklist that encourages kids to join in the action to save energy during the summer.

Summer is a great time for kids to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. But the constant comings and goings often mean the door is left ajar. Sharing your air conditioning with the whole neighborhood and letting summer’s heat waltz right in is a good way to rack up the energy bills fast.

Exterior doors are not the only energy leaks in the house. Refrigerators and freezers need a good tight seal to stay cool in summer’s heat. Forgetting to close them or not closing them tightly forces them to work overtime to keep your food fresh.

  • Parents: Create a checklist for leaving the house to prevent return trips and encourage kids to think about what they want out of the fridge BEFORE they open it, so it doesn’t stay open too long.
  • Kids: Follow the checklist and help adults remember to shut the doors by making reminder signs for all the doors, including exterior and refrigerator/freezer doors.

Some appliances, like your refrigerator or your stove, need to stay plugged in all the time. But the toaster, the vacuum cleaner, the coffee maker, and all those chargers you use for your handheld devices are still sucking energy even when they’re not in use.

  • Parents: Help teach kids the importance of making sure any non-essential appliances are unplugged when not in use.
  • Kids: Make it a contest—compete with family members to (carefully) unplug any appliances that aren’t being used.

Hot and sweaty from playing outside? Taking a cool bath or shower not only helps reduce the risk of heat stroke, it also saves energy by letting your water heater take a rest.

  • Parents: On days when you’re too tired to pack everyone up for the pool, let your kids put on their bathing suits and hop in the tub for a “swim” with their favorite bath toys.
  • Kids: Have a contest with your siblings (or your parents) to see who can take the fastest (but complete!) shower or bath.

The longer light of the summer months should mean less reliance on electric lights, but only if you’re careful to keep the lights off as long as possible. Remembering to turn the lights off when you leave a room is one of the easiest and best ways to save energy.

  • Parents: Help your children make turning off the lights part of their daily routine. Adding “check lights” to their chore list is a great way to encourage kids to be mindful of when they need lights on and when they should be off.
  • Kids: Count the lightbulbs that you switch off each day and keep a tally on a sheet of paper or a whiteboard. See if you can beat your personal best each day!

People and electronics use less energy when they’re sleeping. Laptops and other devices not in use should be put in power-saving “sleep mode,” which can be automated with the settings on the device. This not only saves energy but reduces their heat output, helping keep your home a little bit cooler.

  • Parents: Talk with your kids about energy-efficient electronics and the advantages of letting them “sleep” when not in use.
  • Kids: Remember to close laptops when not in use so they can easily go to sleep. Use a special cover for your handheld screens that puts them to sleep when you close the cover.

Keeping your home cool and your energy bills low this summer doesn’t have to be a drag. Getting your kids involved and making it fun helps the whole family enjoy the summer season together.