How can you and your family conserve home energy this winter?
The holidays are in full swing. By now you probably have the Christmas tree up, have made several dozen cookies, and downed more hot chocolate than you care to admit. The holiday season is a special time for families to bond while watching cheesy Hallmark movies, but it’s also a great time to teach your kids about the importance of good energy practices – especially in the winter when most families turn up the heater to the max.
While that helps make everything extra-cozy, it’s rough on the environment. We all use more energy during the winter than we do in the warmer months. From plugging in hundreds of Christmas lights, using the oven more to make warm holiday treats, and keeping the cold outdoors from entering your home, your energy use skyrockets.
You don’t have to stop doing those things (what kind of holiday would that be?) But you can be more energy-conscious with just some small, easy tweaks around the house. Here are six easy energy conservation tips you and your family can do around the house to lower your carbon footprint while having some family bonding time.
Make saving energy a game
It can be hard to get your kids invested in saving energy around the house, especially since they’re not the ones paying bills (yet). Make energy conservation a game, with prizes, of course, to get them in the spirit of things! Make a list of little things family members can do to save energy around the house like turning off lights or powering down electronic devices when they’re not being used. Award points to those who check off the most items! Fun little prizes will be a great way to motivate family members to get involved, especially if those prizes cater to multiple age groups. Once the family has been doing these games for a while, they’ll turn into habits and keep them energy-conscious throughout their lives.
Install an adjustable thermostat
Granted, this is a bit more of a solo task. But it can be a good teaching opportunity for your kids on how to conserve energy throughout the house (and how to properly install a thermostat). Heating a home during the day when it’s completely empty is a massive waste of energy. It takes much less energy to lower your heater a bit while everyone’s gone, and then turn it back up when everyone is back home.
Adjustable, automatic thermostats can be programmed to change temperatures at specific times of the day so you can conserve energy (and money) without even realizing it. It’s recommended to set your thermostat to around 68 degrees when you’re home and then lower it to around 55 degrees before going to bed or leaving for work. This will keep your carbon footprint low all from a simple, unnoticeable change around the house.
Wear warm clothing around your home
Cozy sweaters are one of the best parts of the holiday season. Not only are they fuzzy and fun, but they also keep everyone warm and cozy all winter long. But a lot of people switch out of their warm clothes when they get home. Use the sweater weather to your advantage by keeping them on around the home so you can lower your thermostat just by a degree or two. You won’t even notice the difference, and you’ll still feel comfortable and warm! Sweaters are a great present for everyone in your family. And if some fun, new clothes can help you lower your energy consumption, it’s worth it both for you, your kids, and the environment.
Switch out regular lights with LED lights
Everyone loves to drive around the neighborhood looking at all of the fun Christmas lights your neighbors have put up. Everyone loves them, but all of that extra energy being spent to light those lights can dramatically increase your carbon footprint and harm the planet in the long run.
If you’re one of those families who love going all out with light shows and holiday decorations, it’s in your best interest to switch to LED lights this year. They use less power and last a lot longer than traditional Christmas lights. Not only will this dramatically lower your power bill, but it will also help limit your negative impact on the environment. Take your family to the store, let the kids help you pick out some new LED lights, and help them put them up on the tree and throughout the house.
Seal chilly cracks around your home
Warm air can easily escape your home from small cracks in your window and door frames. Sealing them with caulk or weatherstripping will keep the warm air right where you need it to be: inside. Enlist your kids to help you find and fix those cracks. If you have younger children, turn it into a fun game by telling them you need to reinforce your fort or castle (your home) so the bad guys can’t get in. Keeping the cold air out means less energy is used to keep your house a stable temperature and your carbon footprint down.
Being more energy-conscious around your home shouldn’t give you a headache or cost lots of money. Small little tasks like these can be done in a weekend, but the positive impact on the environment will last a lifetime. Making these changes with your family by your side will make the entire process more fun, help you bond, and help them develop earth-saving energy habits that will follow them everywhere.
Sit down with your kids and talk about proper energy practices
Winter nights are the perfect time to spend time with your family. Take the time one night to talk about proper energy practices for not just during the holidays, but also throughout their lives. It’s never too early to teach kids about how everyone is responsible for protecting the environment.
Keep the conversation upbeat instead of scaring them about climate change. You can combine the talk with a fun holiday activity like making a snowman, baking cookies for Santa, or building a gingerbread house! If you have young children, talk about how Santa’s workshop is in the North Pole and that we have to be careful not to use too much energy in our home so his home can stay safe from melting. Once they understand why you’re making little energy changes around the house, they’re more likely to follow suit and be more energy-conscious themselves.