Energy saving is a valuable habit to adopt for ourselves and to model for our children and pupils. Not only does it reduce the load we place on our environment, it saves costs, increases the value of property and improves mental and physical health.
Children will contribute more to energy-saving if they understand how and why it makes a difference, so education on the topic is important, as well as practical involvement. A good introductory video for children can be found at https://youtu.be/1-g73ty9v04
To integrate the philosophy, you could carry out fun projects with children such as planting a tree together outside that will shade part of the house and reduce the amount of air-conditioning needed to keep that part of the house cool. Reward or recognition systems can encourage behaviours, such as opening and closing the fridge only once rather than several times; taking shorter showers and switching off lights and unplugging appliances that are not in use. You could also introduce time periods that are electricity free – maybe spending some evenings using candles and eating picnic type foods to illustrate the point. Teaching children to be aware of the energy efficiency rating of appliances will make them more responsible purchasers when they become adults. Involving them in simple habits such as changing light bulbs for more efficient ones or checking thermostats will reinforce the concept.
Children can be made aware of and contribute to some of the following practical steps to save energy in their households. You can also encourage them to come up with their own ideas.
- Use solar power to generate home electricity. Solar power systems derive clean energy from the sun whereas traditional electricity is sourced from non-renewable fossil fuels. Whilst the initial cost of installing solar panels may be high, they last for 25 – 35 years, so in the long-term, money is saved. Various stand-alone devices can also use solar power such as outdoor security cameras and lights, keyboards and calculators, rechargeable flashlights, tablets, speakers and cell-phone chargers.
- Geysers or hot water tanks can be made more efficient. One way is to keep the geyser insulated so that it loses less heat over time which activates the geyser element less frequently. Turning down the geyser thermostat to 60 degrees Celsius also helps, as the lower the temperature, the less electricity is required.
- Regularly maintain electrical appliances. Air conditioning units, for example, function more efficiently when they are clean and properly maintained, thus using far less energy to cool or heat a home. Refrigerators and freezers also use less power when they are well looked after, and freezers are regularly defrosted. Settings on the refrigerator and freezer are often set colder than necessary and can be changed.
- Use timers for lighting. Lights are usually only needed when you are at home or at night, for security lighting, so time-sensitive lighting is a good idea.
- Use energy -efficient appliances such as LED light bulbs versus conventional light bulbs. LED light bulbs use 25-80% less energy and can last 3 to 25 times longer. They are also brighter! Investing in new appliances such as washing machines and toasters will save money and energy in the long run, as newer technology is more energy efficient.
- Use hot water only when necessary. In fact, many modern detergents contain enzymes that work better in cold water.
- Wash clothes less frequently and hand-wash clothes rather than machine-washing.
- Use a low-flow showerhead to reduce hot-water flow in the shower.
- Unplug appliances that are not being used. Surprisingly, appliances that are plugged in actually use a small amount of energy even when they are not in use. Incremental savings could add up to a sizeable amount if everyone adopted this habit.
- Set the dishwasher to “air-dry” rather than “heated-dry.”
- Sun-dry wet clothes.
- Plan meals so that everyone eats together as soon as the meal is cooked. This stops extra electricity being used to re-heat food. Also bear in mind that microwave ovens use less power than conventional stoves. Avoid the temptation to peek in the oven when baking, as more energy is required to re-heat the oven every time the door is opened.
- Let wet hair dry naturally and only use a hairdryer to style hair for a few minutes rather than drying if from completely wet.
- Spend less time on electronic devices and watching television.
American Cleaning Institute, and The Sustainability Consortium. “Cold Water Saves”. Coldwatersaves.Org, 2020, https://coldwatersaves.org/.
Click Energy. “Teaching Kids To Save Energy: 8 Fun Tips To Try During Self Isolation | Click Energy”. Click Energy, 2020, https://www.clickenergy.com.au/news-blog/teaching-kids-to-save-energy-8-fun-tips-to-try.
Energy Sage. “Why Conserve Energy: 8 Benefits Of Energy Efficiency | Energysage”. Energysage.Com, 2019, https://www.energysage.com/energy-efficiency/why-conserve-energy/.
Energy.gov. “How Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs Compare With Traditional Incandescents”. Energy.Gov, 2020, https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/save-electricity-and-fuel/lighting-choices-save-you-money/how-energy-efficient-light.
Franke. “4 Ways To Save Electricity With Your Electric Geyser”. Makeitwonderful.Co.Za, 2016, https://www.makeitwonderful.co.za/blog/wonderfully-franke/4-ways-to-save-electricity-with-your-electric-geyser.
Richardson, Luke. “Solar Energy Pros And Cons 2020: Top Benefits/Drawbacks | Energysage”. Solar News, 2018, https://news.energysage.com/advantages-and-disadvantages-of-solar-energy/.
Richardson, Luke. “The 5 Most Common Uses Of Solar Energy In 2020 | Energysage”. Solar News, 2018, https://news.energysage.com/most-common-solar-energy-uses/.
Smart Energy International. “Energy-Saving Habits For 2020”. Smart Energy International, 2020, https://www.smart-energy.com/features-analysis/energy-saving-habits-for-2020/.