These days we hear a lot about saving energy.  Often this comes in the context of saving our environment.  As homeowners we think of saving energy as saving money. With summer in full  swing and many of us struggling through a heat wave saving energy may seem like a losing battle.  For most of us this is made worse because the kids are home from school. For the most part, kids do not seem to understand the concept of turning off lights, shutting the refrigerator door or keeping the door between the home and garage closed while they are hunting for their skateboard.  The questions for us as parents is how do you best teach kids to conserve energy?

Saving Energy

Save Energy By Scheduling Outside Play Time.

Make saving energy relevant to them.

Why do children tend to leave on electronics? A child would most likely answer that they “didn’t think about it” or “they were planning to come back” or even “why should we?”. They do not reap the benefits of saving energy, so they don’t consider it. Therefore, the first step in getting children to start monitoring their energy use is to give them a relevant example. For instance, if your five year old has a habit of keeping lights on when they leave the room, you could explain to them that every time they leave the lights on it’s like throwing away a Chick-Fil-A meal. As small as this seems, it puts the idea into your child’s perspective and makes it relevant to them.


Create a habit of saving energy.


We all know that it is easier to create a habit than it is to break one…or so it seems with things that we want to stop doing. So why not take advantage of this? If you make saving energy a habit in your life then your children will follow. This holds true especially for younger children. Leading by example is an easy way to show your child that monitoring energy use is important and easy to do.

You can take this lesson one step further by verbalizing it. Every time you and your child leave the room, ask a simple question like “what do we have to do first?” until they start to remember on their own. A habit they create with you will ultimately become one they will continue to have as they grow older. Since it is much easier to form a habit as a child, there is a good chance that your child will remember to turn off lights and become even better at conserving energy than you. In fact, they may be the one to remind you to turn off electronics, and will be very proud of it!


Create a system of rewards


Children develop new skills by being reinforced in good habits over bad. That being said, this does not mean yelling when they forget to turn lights off and then giving them ice cream when they do remember. Instead, small gestures such as high-fives, stickers, and “grumpy faces” will do the trick. More often than not, once the habit is close to being established, they will only need a small reminder to reinforce it.  Since children enjoy receiving parental approval, once they understand how happy it makes you to see them conserving energy and they receive positive reinforcement for it, they will be more interested in changing their behavior. You can save having ice cream for a special treat and focus on alternative ways to say “good job” for rewarding conserving energy use.


Make a game of saving energy


For most children a game is always a good way to teach new skills. For example, creating a scavenger hunt for all the things that are wasting energy in your home can be a lot of fun for you and your child. Another idea is to create an energy checklist to do before leaving the house. The first one to turn off all their electronics and make it outside wins. Perhaps your child will have an idea of their own for an energy saving game. Whatever the game may be, having fun while learning makes for a far greater experience than “How many times have I told you to turn your computer off?”


Ideas on saving energy and resources with your children this summer


  1. Turn off the lights.
  2. Close the doors when AC is on.
  3. Don’t leave the sink running.
  4. Unplug your electronic items (even when they are off they are still draining electricity).
  5. Close windows and doors.
  6. Close the refrigerator/freezer.
  7. Close the curtains (keeping the temperature down inside means using less air conditioning).
  8. Play outside. Less time inside with electronics means less electricity and more time with friends!
  9. Take a shower instead of a bath


Learn more

While teaching our children is a great way to pass on the importance of saving energy and helping our environment, it is just the start of numerous things we can do. For additional ideas and quick tips, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.