In the winter it is those heating bills. In the summer it is the electric bills caused by constantly running the air conditioner.
And, to make matters worse, the kids never seem to turn off the lights in their room when they leave, are not turning faucets off so water drips constantly in the sink, or are leaving doors and windows open letting the hot summer time air inside the house.
How can we make our children help us reduce our utility utility bills now, instill in them energy conservation habits that they will have for a lifetime and create an environment where they want to actually talk with you and learn about energy conservation?
Our local electric utility is having for the first time this year an electricity reduction contest over the summer. Electricity usage will be compared for those residences who register for the contest between May 1st and the end of August of this year to last.
There are two levels of winners. Those achieving a reduction less than 10% will be entered in one group to participate in a drawing of various prizes. Those achieving a reduction of more than 10% will be entered in a second group where the available prizes will be larger, for example a solar water heating unit.
Sure, we have registered our home to participate. We even think we have an ace in the hole because of the home energy audit we had performed recently on our home with lots of energy conservation ideas. And, we have even installed solar shades on the outside, yes … the outside, of our south facing windows to reduce much of the sun’s UV rays from even entering our home while still allowing us to see outside which most in North America have only started to learn about in the past few years.
However, we (my wife and I) can’t be the only ones who keep running around the house turning the lights off in this room and closing the back door and …. you get my gist.
So, we have mentioned the contest to our children. They have seen us make some energy conservation adjustments in our house like the CFL lights and the previously mentioned exterior solar shades. But they have not seen everything we have done like the weather stripping the door to the cold cellar or apply caulking here and there.
So, we started by telling them of the contest, our participation in it, what we have done so far ourselves for our own home, and so on. Would you be motivated by just this if you were a child? Likely not.
Why not have them participate in the winnings. Everyone likes to win. And, why only have them share in something called a CFL light bulb?
So, make it interesting to them. What about a trip to the ice cream store every week or two if they can demonstrate that they are remembering to turn off the faucet in the sink or the lights in their rooms? What about going to a movie or the zoo if they remember to close the back door or pull down the interior blinds during the day?
What about a day at the beach if they catch you, yes you, not doing any of the energy conservation conservation habits that you tell them about?
How about offering them a list of rewards from which they can choose and make it clear how you will measure their performance?
You could hold a weekly ‘meeting’ where you review how the family has done during that week to reinforce what they need to do in order for them to be rewarded.
You don’t have to start with everything at once. Perhaps you introduce one energy conservation item at the beginning of the week and have the list of possible prizes be larger as the weeks go by as they demonstrate doing more and more energy conservation tasks.
And, lastly, you don’t have to wait for your own local utility to run a contest. This type of family involvement with energy conservation is something where everyone wins. Start now. With the hot summer days now upon us, there is no better time to start.
For more home energy conservation ideas and tips, and our own family’s experiences with home renovations and energy conservation, simply use the link below to access our blog, Daily Home Renovation Tips.