Author Topic: Incentivizing Kids Not to Waste Energy/Water?  (Read 1687 times)

onemorebike

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Incentivizing Kids Not to Waste Energy/Water?
« on: December 08, 2018, 05:01:20 AM »
Every morning, before we go out the door, I find myself running a route through the house to shut off all of the lights that have been left on - and man, there are a lot of them. Between that, water being left running, and our gas fireplace being left on too long, I can get pretty frustrated at the dollars being burned.

Has anyone devised a successful strategy to help kids understand the value of a flipped light switch, running water, or warm fireplace? Any big ideas for helping curb it?

(My kids are 6 and 9, FWIW but I bet this applies well into adulthood. :))

-onemorebike

Gin1984

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Re: Incentivizing Kids Not to Waste Energy/Water?
« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2018, 07:53:04 AM »
I bribed my eldest, if she turned off a light I forgot she gets a penny, but the reverse is true, if I turn off a light she has to give me penny.  She is five. I don't know how well this would work with older kids.

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Re: Incentivizing Kids Not to Waste Energy/Water?
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2018, 08:07:13 AM »
The example the adults in the house are modelling is probably the most important thing.  I never had to learn any of this because I just copied my parents, who were always careful to turn things on and off as needed and never create waste.   If your kids don't understand that they should be following your example you need to tell them that they should be: that being careful with resources is part of being a responsible adult and as a responsible adult it is your job to make sure that they follow your example.

I mean, you could show them the bills?  Show them how much various jobs pay per hour and how long someone would have to work to pay them?  Talk about the cost to the environment and climate change?  But none of that means anything if they do not see their adults being responsible and understand that they need to follow that example.

sol

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Re: Incentivizing Kids Not to Waste Energy/Water?
« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2018, 08:48:03 AM »
I used to unscrew light bulbs in their bedrooms or closets whenever I found a light on after they had left.  I am tall and am the only person in the house who can do this easily.  Then I would screw it back in a week later.

It did not take long for them to learn to hit the lights when leaving.

I don't have a good solution for lights in shared family areas.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2018, 09:11:37 AM by sol »

GizmoTX

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Re: Incentivizing Kids Not to Waste Energy/Water?
« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2018, 08:48:48 AM »
The modeling is already happening: the parent is sweeping through the house every morning doing what the kids should be doing for themselves. The message is wrong: THEY are to be responsible, not the parent. A habit takes about 3 weeks to be ingrained & positive reinforcement helps.

I suggest a short, to the point meeting with both kids telling them what you expect & why they should do it (save resources, money, self sufficiency, & it’s the right thing to do). Teach them that they only turn the water on to rinse their toothbrush & mouth, then turn it off — don’t let the water run while brushing. Lights off when leaving a room, including the closet.

Come up with a treat you know they’ll like (movie, ice cream out, etc) & tell them they have to turn everything off for a week to earn it. No reminding from you. Any lapse & the week resets. Suggest your kids police each other if necessary. Have a physical something to mark progress; mark a calendar or chart. Yes, you’ll have to still sweep through the house to check. If they fail, don’t relent, just tell them it’s a bummer they forgot & you know they’ll do better, but insist on the week. Then, after the successful week, you may want to up the prize & require 3 straight weeks.

If there’s constant backsliding, you have a different problem & need a consequence that you are so “tired” of doing for them (or a particular kid) that privileges will be curtailed until you see improvement.

Blueberries

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Re: Incentivizing Kids Not to Waste Energy/Water?
« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2018, 08:07:50 AM »
After reading a book recommendation from this forum, I put together a schedule for my kids that is posted on the side of the fridge.  I do not remind them to do individual tasks; I simply tell them to look at their schedule. This has really improved our lives, as hyperbolic as that sounds.

onemorebike

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Re: Incentivizing Kids Not to Waste Energy/Water?
« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2018, 08:26:15 AM »
Funny you mention it, I've read a similar book and the girls have been using a morning list for the past year or so and it has transformed our mornings - it includes everything from making sure they have their lunch, snow gear, beds made, hair brushed, but for whatever reason it didn't occur to me to add the lights off! Consider it added.

After reading a book recommendation from this forum, I put together a schedule for my kids that is posted on the side of the fridge.  I do not remind them to do individual tasks; I simply tell them to look at their schedule. This has really improved our lives, as hyperbolic as that sounds.

I'm a red panda

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Re: Incentivizing Kids Not to Waste Energy/Water?
« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2018, 08:28:10 AM »
At age 6, I was really getting into environmental concerns.

Other than "it costs money" have you ever talked to your kids about why not to waste water and electricity?  Do they know where electricity comes from and the impact on the planet? Do they think of water as unlimited, or do they see what it takes to produce clean water for our houses?   

onemorebike

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Re: Incentivizing Kids Not to Waste Energy/Water?
« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2018, 08:40:05 AM »
At age 6, I was really getting into environmental concerns.

Other than "it costs money" have you ever talked to your kids about why not to waste water and electricity?  Do they know where electricity comes from and the impact on the planet? Do they think of water as unlimited, or do they see what it takes to produce clean water for our houses?
They hear (and I think understand) these implications all of the time. We are pretty heavy on environmentalism in this house. It is putting it into practice that is hard.

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onemorebike

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Re: Incentivizing Kids Not to Waste Energy/Water?
« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2018, 08:51:59 AM »
Unfortunately, modeling isn't always an effective solution. :)

I think using the list idea below and spending more time looking  at and reflecting on the cost of energy and how that impacts them in the world might be a project we work on sometime soon. There has to be a curriculum for this out there somewhere. :)

The example the adults in the house are modelling is probably the most important thing.  I never had to learn any of this because I just copied my parents, who were always careful to turn things on and off as needed and never create waste.   If your kids don't understand that they should be following your example you need to tell them that they should be: that being careful with resources is part of being a responsible adult and as a responsible adult it is your job to make sure that they follow your example.

I mean, you could show them the bills?  Show them how much various jobs pay per hour and how long someone would have to work to pay them?  Talk about the cost to the environment and climate change?  But none of that means anything if they do not see their adults being responsible and understand that they need to follow that example.

GuitarStv

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Re: Incentivizing Kids Not to Waste Energy/Water?
« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2018, 08:56:23 AM »
Yell at them to turn off lights when they're not in the room.  So far, this is working well with my five year old.

I'm a red panda

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Re: Incentivizing Kids Not to Waste Energy/Water?
« Reply #11 on: December 11, 2018, 09:10:28 AM »
Make them go round the house in the morning turning off the lights instead of you doing it.

Also, we have a faucet that turns off after 3 minutes. that's a LONG time for water to run, but better than all day.

Dragonswan

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Re: Incentivizing Kids Not to Waste Energy/Water?
« Reply #12 on: December 12, 2018, 11:26:26 AM »
Yell at them to turn off lights when they're not in the room.  So far, this is working well with my five year old.

Much as it pains me, if adding it to the list fails, do this.  It's exhausting, but effective.

redwagon

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Re: Incentivizing Kids Not to Waste Energy/Water?
« Reply #13 on: December 12, 2018, 12:42:00 PM »
We live in the city and everywhere we go kids always want to hit the button to open accessible doors. For years now we have been reminding our kids to use their muscles and not waste electricity by pushing the buttons. My son asked me very politely this morning not to press the button to open the door, but "could I please push the button to waste electricity"....

El Jacinto

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Re: Incentivizing Kids Not to Waste Energy/Water?
« Reply #14 on: December 26, 2018, 02:29:04 PM »
The example the adults in the house are modelling is probably the most important thing.  I never had to learn any of this because I just copied my parents, who were always careful to turn things on and off as needed and never create waste.

This is very true. I have to constantly remind my wife to turn off lights and unplug things not in use, but when we are at her parents' house, I understand why she struggles with it. They have more lights on than off...

TomTX

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Re: Incentivizing Kids Not to Waste Energy/Water?
« Reply #15 on: December 31, 2018, 04:19:59 PM »
I used to unscrew light bulbs in their bedrooms or closets whenever I found a light on after they had left.  I am tall and am the only person in the house who can do this easily.  Then I would screw it back in a week later.

It did not take long for them to learn to hit the lights when leaving.

I don't have a good solution for lights in shared family areas.

Unused lights or other devices which are on are "energy vampires" - defeat them by turning them off!

Basically, gamify it. All I have to do is say "Oh, no! There is an energy vampire in [room]" to get the pitter patter of little feet headed to turn off the light.

Be prepared for "Daddy! There is an Energy Vampire in the Office!" anytime you walk out briefly to refill your beverage or visit the restroom....

SnackDog

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Re: Incentivizing Kids Not to Waste Energy/Water?
« Reply #16 on: January 06, 2019, 09:09:33 PM »
Install LED bulbs and occupancy sensors.  Then forget about it.

GuitarStv

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Re: Incentivizing Kids Not to Waste Energy/Water?
« Reply #17 on: January 07, 2019, 10:56:12 AM »
Install LED bulbs and occupancy sensors.  Then forget about it.

I'm not sure the solution to wastefulness is to buy more shit.

sol

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Re: Incentivizing Kids Not to Waste Energy/Water?
« Reply #18 on: January 07, 2019, 02:06:34 PM »
Install LED bulbs and occupancy sensors.  Then forget about it.

Also of note:  occupancy sensors are themselves energy vampires.  My research suggests that they are rarely cost effective, because they usually consume more energy when the lights are off for 20 hours per day than they save by turning the lights off earlier when someone occasionally forgets.

I have one that I use all of the time, that controls the under cabinet led lighting in my kitchen.  I love it, because it turns on whenever anyone enters the kitchen at night, and then turns itself off again, and it means I rarely have to use the actual kitchen lights, which are numerous and bright and consume much more power.  Our kitchen is a high traffic area, so it probably saves us money overall.  But for most parts of your home where people are already good about turning off the lights most of the time, or where the light is very rarely used (like closets or a guest bedroom) then they definitely cost more than they save.  They suck power 24/7, testing for motion.

F.I.Life

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Re: Incentivizing Kids Not to Waste Energy/Water?
« Reply #19 on: February 08, 2019, 11:04:54 PM »
We have no problem with lights being left on but with water. My oldest, under 5, used to complain when I turn off the water after tub fills up with slightly less than a quarter tub of water. So one day i said, if we leave the water running and waste water, which we will have to pay, we wont have enough $ for his Christmas presents. Worked like a charm. Now when i leave the bathroom and the water is still running, my son will yell for me to turn off the water lolol.

He also questions why a light is on anytime he spots a light on during "day time" inside or outside the home.

Sugaree

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Re: Incentivizing Kids Not to Waste Energy/Water?
« Reply #20 on: February 21, 2019, 08:51:45 AM »
Smart bulbs and outlets.  My husband is worse than the kid, so everything in the house will shut itself off shortly after the time that they are supposed to be leaving.  The window unit and space heater in the three-season room will shut themselves off after they've used $1.00 worth of electricity.