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Challenge: Summer Fun

Keep It Cool: 5 Fun Ways to Save Energy with Your Kids

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My kids and I about to go on a bicycle ride to the park

Conservation. Sustainability. Climate change. These concepts are tough enough for adults to get their minds around. My 11-year-old son? He's learning. My 4-year-old daughter? Not yet. But I want to start teaching them now about the importance of saving energy and other resources.

Fortunately, teaching children about how to be energy efficient in the community and around the house isn’t as tough as it seems. Think of it like a game and try to create a fun learning experience for your kids that they can take step by step. Here are five fun ways that you and your family can learn more about saving energy:

Go visit your local library

My kids love books and becoming an "expert" on a new topic. A parable like Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax gives children an emotional connection to the environment. And there are many good nonfiction resources – such as The Shocking Truth about Energy, that engage kids by explaining the science of energy. Learning the basics about energy makes it easier to understand why we should conserve it.

Plant a tree outside your home

Plan a day to plant a tree with your kids. My kids love playing in the dirt, and this is a way they can get dirty and make a difference in their environment. Trees help improve air quality by trapping pollutants, pollen and dust. They help combat climate change by taking in carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen back in the air. Plus, they provide great shade that cuts down on cooling costs in the summer.

Help shut doors while shopping

It’s common for stores to have their doors open in the summer, streaming cold air conditioning outside. Even my 4-year-old knows we don't do this at home. It's so wasteful! I found out about this energy awareness campaign called “Keep It Cool” to decrease retail energy waste across communities nationwide. While shopping, your kids can help play “I Spy” and find open doors along the way for you. It’s simple: By using Facebook Messenger, you drop a pin of the retailer’s door and send it to “Generation 180”. I’ve already pinned 10 locations and plan to do more.

Fill the trash and recycle game

Turn this into a game and create customized bins for paper, glass and plastic. This is great practice for your kids that are just starting to do chores, and helps to establish lifelong positive habits. Let them decorate the bins with pictures and give your kids items to practice sorting. For bonus points, try separating food waste and composting it in the back yard.

Ride bikes or walk to the park

Grab your sneakers, sunscreen and take a trip to the park. Instead of driving, walking or biking is a healthy and alternative option not just for the environment but for your health. Take a break with your kids from watching television or playing video games indoors. My daughter loves to ride to the park near our house, and my son explores the trails nearby. Ride your bicycle with your family and ditch the car!

Our children are never too young to start learning about saving energy. By educating your kids about energy awareness and reducing pollution, we can all make a difference, one lesson at a time. What are you doing with your kids to reduce energy waste in your community and at home?

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