Saving the Pandas, the Environment, and Energy Too: Talking Energy Efficiency with Kids
Oct 4, 2018
Recently my oldest (age 6) asked me if we bought bamboo floors for our new house. When I told him yes, he seemed pretty upset. So I asked him why. He was concerned about the pandas. Bamboo is what the pandas eat, and if we bought bamboo floors, then there would be less food for the pandas and they are already endangered. This warmed my heart. My son was concerned about the pandas and their environment. So I explained to him that bamboo grows in lots of places around the world, and that bamboo grows faster than trees. So, there would still be bamboo for the pandas.
As parents we’re always looking to teach our kids about good habits and behaviors, like helping others and caring for the world we live in. Being that I work in utility services and energy efficiency, helping my kids understand the concept of energy, and the role energy plays in the world around them, is important (but not always easy!).
Here are some ways you can help your kids to understand energy and why it’s important to use less:
What is energy?
Ask your kids what they think energy is. Help them understand that energy gives the power to make something work. Make sure you explain where energy and electricity come from.
- Energy is the ability to do work.
- The food you eat contains a type of energy that is stored by your body until you release it when you work or play.
- Electricity is also a type of energy, we use it to power things in our homes, schools, and other buildings. It can be made from many sources, such as coal, gas, nuclear fuels, the wind, or sunlight. It is made at power plants and travels to our homes on wires.
- When we create electricity, it costs money and it can have different effects on nature. That’s why people try to use less energy and also try to make electricity from sources that aren’t going away like from wind or the sun.
Visit your local library or bookstore for books to read with them about energy, such as:
- The Magic School Bus And The Electric Field Trip by Joanna Cole
- How Does My Home Work? by Chris Butterworth
- Switch On, Switch Off by Melvin Berger
- Oscar and the Bird: A Book about Electricity by Geoff Waring
Thanks to Blaze and the Monster Machines, my son knows that energy can come from the sun, wind, and water.
There are lots of videos that kids can watch online that have information about energy and electricity. Here are just a few:
- Schoolhouse Rock- Electricity, Electricity
- Schoolhouse Rock!: "The Energy Blues"
- Sesame Street - Don't waste electricity
- Sesame Street: Save Your Energy For Me
- The Magic School Bus Gets Charged
- Electricity - Bill Nye the Science Guy
Start at Home
Ask your kids if they have any ideas on what you could do at home to use less energy. Walk around the house to help them find ideas.
- Turn off the lights when you leave a room
- Shut down toys and other devices when you’re not playing with them
- Turn off the TV (and play outside!)
- Close the door quickly when you go in/out of the house
- Don’t stand in front of the refrigerator or freezer with the door open
- Shut windows to control indoor temperatures
- Turn off the water while you brush your teeth
- Did you know it takes energy to pump water to your house and keep it clean for drinking?
- When washing your hands, turn the water off while you lather.
- It takes energy to heat water too!
He’s getting it. I recently overheard him telling his 2.5 year old sister to turn the light off so she didn’t waste electricity. Once they both can reach all the light switches, we’ll get even better!
For more useful (and fun) resources for kids to learn about energy efficiency, check out these sites: