This Is How I Make My Child Learn About Energy Conservation
Do you want to raise an environmentally-conscious kid? This is how I try to make energy conservation a part of life for my kid and my family — it’s a work in progress!
By Monali Bordoloi • 7 min read
Scene one: You enter the bathroom and notice that the tap is still on as your little munchkin is busy admiring the cartoon character on her toothbrush.
Scene two: Your children constantly keep opening the door of the refrigerator to check whether the jelly moulds have set. The refrigerator ends up taking twice as long to cool.
Scene three: Your child comes home covered in mud and you have to add an extra spoon of detergent and let the washing machine run for an extra cycle.
Scene four: Your teenage son insists on using three devices at the same time and your electricity and internet consumption shoots up.
The slogan for energy conservation goes, 'It won't take much energy to conserve energy'. However, as the scenarios above demonstrate, if you are a parent, it certainly take up a lot of energy. But how do we make energy conservation a family habit?
In my experience, introducing small changes in the day-to-day life is the best way to introduce energy conservation to children. Here's how I and my family do it in our energy conservation journey.
Why conserving energy is important
We need to conserve energy not only for a better, greener and more resource-rich planet for our children, but it would significantly reduce our energy bills also, and we are not talking only about electricity here.
I am sure, as parents — your kid could be a preschooler or a pre-teen who tries hard to act like a teen, as my daughter does, all of us can relate to the scenes described above. I could even hear, “This is exactly a scene out of my home”. And I agree. It is difficult to adopt a greener way of life and to implement eco-friendly, sustainable habits, especially when you have children in the house. But more than ever before, now is the time when we should actively try to conserve energy. As they say, ‘save energy, save earth.’
How to implement those ideas at home?
It is easy to feel inspired when we see slogans about energy saving or start following the cool sustainable-living-recycle-queen Instagram mom, but when it comes to implementing some of that stuff in our own home, we struggle.
However, I am not someone who gives up easily. So, I came up with a few house rules to help reduce our carbon footprint — I tried explaining this to my kid, but gave up and instead said, 'concentrate on finishing what you have on your plate, that would also help the planet'.
Here are a few of the steps I took to bring up a child who is sensitive to the environment we live in. I’m sure you can implement some of these in your home, too. You can thank me later when you see the electricity bill!
1. Switch Off Superhero: I have officially made my daughter the Switch Off Superhero of our home — she is in charge of switching off lights, fans and other electronic devices when not in use. She takes her responsibility rather seriously. She is also responsible for the fridge now, so if I take too long to take out veggies, she is the one to point it out. Of course, there are times when she goes overboard and rooms go dark even before we are done!
2. Save every drop: As a family, we consider water a scarce natural resource. Living in an apartment in Bangalore has helped us value water. We have experienced acute water scarcity the last few summers and hired water tankers were our only saviour. Again, my daughter dons the detective hat and looks for leaking taps and faucets in the house and reports back to me. I’ve told her that even clogged taps can eat up energy. So, she keeps an eye out for those as well. By the way, I have re-introduced bucket baths in our households, showers are for weekends only.
3. Solar water heater: Let’s face it. The amount of energy we use for heating water for our baths is insane. I have been trying to convince my husband to install a solar heater in our home for a long time now. So what if the installation charges are little high at present, it will save us a lot in the long run. However, we still haven’t reached an agreement. This is why I said my efforts to be energy efficient are still work in progress. Meanwhile, check out this website to know all about solar powered water heaters.
4. Sensible celebrations: For the past few years, we have been using reusable birthday decorations and cutlery instead of disposable ones for my daughter’s birthday parties. Some of the Happy Birthday buntings are the fruits of labour from our craft sessions. This year, I went ahead and gifted succulents in cute ceramic pots to the birthday girl and her close circle of friends. And I tend to ignore the occasional, “Mama, you’re a cheapskate!” comment.
5. Fuel efficiency: I explain to my daughter that fuel efficiency is the reason why we can’t take our car out for small errands like buying fruits and veggies, visiting the tailor shop, etc. Of course, Bangalore traffic is another big reason! My husband is in charge of timely servicing and other steps to maintain the fuel efficiency of the car. Otherwise, it causes a huge dent, both in our monthly budget and our carbon footprint.
6. Gadget Free Hour: We, as a family spend an hour or two of gadget free time together whenever we can. It definitely helps us bond as a family over a game of Monopoly or catch up with what’s happening in my daughter’s life. During one such gadget-free hour discussion, she confessed how while cycling, she and her friends went out of their usual route and almost crashed into an auto! Now, I have new rules for cycling in place! Gadget free time daily saves us some amount on the electricity bill too.
7. Clean up the lights: I recently read a report by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) under the Ministry of Power and went on a drive to change all the light bulbs in our home to more energy-efficient Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs). The report really changed my perspective on energy usage at home. Now, Diwali or not, I clean all my light fixtures regularly to save energy. Check out other cool energy saving tips from the agency here.
8. Laundry load: I keep telling my man and my daughter that they do not roll up their sleeves while eating, I will have to wash it. My daughter's immediate response is. 'the washing machine will do it'. I recently sat her down and told her how much energy a washing machine can guzzle if we overload it or add more detergent powder, which will ultimately add to our electricity, water bill and damage the planet. Earlier, she was surprised when she found a note to reuse bath towels during a stay at a hotel, but now she gets it!
9. Energy saving in the kitchen: Kitchen is my domain, mostly. And I go all out to save energy there. The rising price of gas cylinders is a pressing motivator for my efforts. There are many small ways you can save energy in the kitchen. I soak rice and dal before cooking to save up on cooking time and gas. Flat-bottomed pots and pans are a godsend to save on cooking time. Regularly cleaning my gas burners, oven and microwave of all food deposits also helps a lot. Whenever possible, I also try to cook in one-pot-one-shot style of pressure cooking to save on gas and time.
I understand that energy conservation is a very serious issue and its implementation in the larger context depends on policy makers and big industries. However, that does not prevent me from trying to save on our energy bills and having a good night’s sleep, content that I, rather, we, as a family, are doing our bit to conserve energy and trying to leave a better planet for the next generation!
Do you practice any of the energy-saving tips mentioned here? How do you save on your energy bills? Do write to us.
About the author:
Written by Monali Bordoloi on 9 December 2020.
Monali works as a Senior Copy Editor with ParentCircle.
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