“When I was a kid, I dreamed of one day having a home where I could pay my own electric bills,” said no one ever. While it’s not the most fun way to spend money, most want to live in homes with electricity. Educating kids on energy use and costs can help engage them in your family’s goal to use less electricity. They can be electric conservation champions if you ask them to help. Here are some ways you can teach kids to use less electricity.
Show them how to read the electric bill. Focus on what you can control: kilowatt-hour use. If they are old enough, teach them how to do the math. You can calculate kWh use by multiplying wattage by hours used and dividing by 1,000. Multiply this by the kWh rate found on your electric bill to estimate how much you spend on power for each household appliance.
For example, if you have a space heater that uses 1,500 watts and is on for four hours a day for a month, it uses 180 kWh. With an average kWh rate of 13.7 cents in the U.S., the space heater costs about $25 a month to operate. Your kWh rate may be lower or higher depending on your electric cooperative.
For household appliance wattage, look for the amount stamped on the bottom, back or nameplate. If the nameplate does not include wattage, figure it out by multiplying the voltage by the amperage.
To teach children the impact of saving energy, have them help you conserve with the household’s biggest energy-consuming appliances: heating and cooling. Teach kids to dress appropriately for the season, even when they are indoors, which allows you to set the thermostat to balance comfort and savings.
You can also leave the house during the hottest times of the day to go for a swim or play outside. Before you go, nudge up the thermostat a few degrees to avoid wasting energy by cooling an empty house. Turn off fans when you leave a room. Fans only provide a cooling effect, but they don’t actually cool a room.
The second highest use of electricity is typically the electric water heater. Use a shower timer so bigger kids can monitor how long they are in the shower. Teach them to wash their clothes with cold water. If you have a gas water heater, look at the gas bill to find opportunities to save.
Other ways to save include turning off lights when you leave a room and switching lightbulbs to LED lighting. Powering down gaming stations and computers is another way to save. In the kitchen, keep the refrigerator door shut. Teach kids to take a quick peek and shut the door while they think about their snack options.
After teaching your kids about electric bills and showing them how to save electricity, make a game out of your family’s energy conservation efforts. Challenge the family to use less energy than last month or the same month last year. Use the savings to reward them with a treat or let the winner pick the game night activity or film for family movie night.
You can also teach children where the electricity for their home comes from. Check out your electric co-op’s website or give them a call to find out what energy sources power your home.