Families Surrey West March April 2022 Print

Page 5

Involving children in saving power


By Angela Terry


he climate crisis is hot news, energy prices are soaring and families are feeling the pain. With nearly a quarter of the UK’s carbon emissions created by our homes, there’s no better time to instill good energy-saving habits in our children. Luckily, there are many creative ways of doing this so you don’t need to resort to nagging. Here are some suggestions:

Measure your household carbon footprint

To put energy saving into context, find a free online calculator and measure your household carbon footprint. Start a family art project, drawing a big foot and recording the date and the number of tonnes of emissions generated by your household. As you work together to reduce your footprint, you can update your achievements periodically, getting your children to draw smaller and smaller feet. Display your feet in a row along a wall to chart your progress.

Get children to write the rules

Go through each room in your house with the kids and ask them to pinpoint all the potential sources of wasted energy. Draw up a list together and agree a set of family rules that you’re all going to stick to, like switching off appliances that aren’t in use and keeping all curtains closed at night. Ownership of the rules should help motivate kids to follow them.


To help younger children stick to your rules, try a reward chart with stickers. If they stick to them for a week, you can then give them a special eco treat, like a bee hotel for the garden or a packet of sunflower seeds to plant together. Older children and teens are more likely to be motivated by money, so agree a small weekly financial reward. Given how much energy prices are increasing, this will still save you money overall.

Appoint monitors

Allocate specific roles to each child. One could be the curtain monitor, ensuring all curtains are pulled shut at dusk, stopping extra energy seeping out of windows as the temperature drops. Likewise, another child could be the thermostat monitor and check it isn’t set above nineteen degrees Celsius. Children can also check that bedrooms and little-used rooms are not being heated unnecessarily by turning down their radiator valves. Finally, a socket monitor could make sure all appliances not in use are switched off at the wall.

Time showers

Make a game of it when it comes to cutting hot water usage by timing each other in the shower to see who can be the quickest – whilst still actually getting clean, of course!

Screen time

Screen time limits can be one of the greatest sources of tension between parents and children. Building in an energy saving component can help. Explain to your children that the carbon footprint of our gadgets, the internet and the systems supporting them is nearly four percent of global emissions - greater than those from aviation. If they stick to agreed limits, offer to reward them with an outing to the park or a hot chocolate in a cafe.

Set an example

One of the best things you can do is role model ultra-efficient energy usage. Children are like sponges and imitate those they’re closest to. Make sure you do everything you’re asking them to do, and ask them to remind you if you forget. They’ll love the sense of responsibility (and telling you what to do!).

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Of course, you want to save energy but simultaneously make your home as insulated and cosy as possible. Encourage your children to come on a draught hunt with you, searching for any leaks around windows or doors. When you find some, enlist their help in a bit of easy DIY, sealing them with inexpensive rubber trim, available from most DIY shops. If cold air is seeping under the front door, do some ‘draught craft’ and make a snake draught excluder together. YouTube has lots of helpful tutorials. Hunting for draughts



Smarten up your energy saving

A smart meter is a great visual tool. Once you’ve had one installed, use it to show your children when you’re using the most energy and how much it’s costing. Set targets to reduce your monthly usage and bills. Explain that just by turning down your thermostat by one degree saves an average of £80 per year. The ideal temperature is nineteen degrees Celsius. Set targets and treat yourselves to a family games night or outing whenever you hit them. Angela Terry is an environmental scientist and founder of One Home (www.onehome.org.uk), the UK's first consumer climate action hub.

Want to find out more? Why not visit the new Home Energy Advice Centre at Fully Charged Live when the show returns to Farnborough on 29 April - 1 May. Find out from the experts how to make your home greener, learn about clean energy or take a test drive in an electric car. There’s also a kids zone, interactive attractions and live music stage! Book tickets at www.fullycharged.live - enter code Families for a 20% discount! Also, on 23 April it is the Cranleigh Eco Festival at the Cranleigh Arts Centre - you can buy eco-friendly artisan goods, hear talks and get information on what you can do to work towards a more sustainable lifestyle.

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