Kids tend to look at the small picture when it comes to their world. As parents we have to take the time to show and explain the big picture to them. This definitely applies to understanding their role in energy conservation. Hopefully the following tips and explanations will help your children understand how important they are in helping our planet.
- Turn off lights and other electronics (TV, Video games, etc.) when leaving a room for more than a few minutes. It takes energy to make energy. Coal and natural gas, both non-renewable resources, are the most common fuels burned to make electricity.
- Turn off the water while brushing your teeth. It takes energy to pump the water through the faucet and back to the treatment facility after it’s used. The Federal Plumbing Standard for bathroom faucets is 2.2 gallons per minute, it certainly doesn’t take that much water to wet and rinse a tooth brush.
- Open blinds/curtains on sunny winter days and close them on hot summer days.
The sun provides a free source of heat that will help keep the furnace running less in the winter. Keeping the sun out of the house in the summer will keep the place cooler, saving the air conditioner if you have one.
- Keep the refrigerator door closed. Up to 1/3 of the cold air in the fridge can be let out just opening the door to grab the milk. The condenser has to turn on to replace that lost temperature and that requires energy. Know what you want before you open the door.
RecycleThis just might be the most important way to conserve energy! Think of all the paper, plastic, glass and aluminum products we use everyday in our homes. Not only does it take vast amounts of energy to make these products from scratch, but it takes a lot of resources (trees, petroleum derivatives, chemicals, minerals and of course aluminum). Much less energy and new resources are consumed when these materials are reused to make new paper, cups, cans or whatever. Outside of trees, most of these resources are non-renewable. That means there is a finite amount of it and when it’s gone, it’s gone. Recycling isn’t just about energy conservation, it’s also about resource conservation.
Solar energy is often indicated as a cheaper alternative to regular residential electrical use, but the savings they provide isn’t always immediately apparent. How can owning a solar panel help you lower your residential utility costs, and are these savings enough to justify the initial expense of setting up a solar array?
Solar energy offers homeowners big savings on their electric bills, though this may vary by area and the size of their solar array. Solar panels can only operate while there’s sunlight to strike them– panels set up in areas with a lot of cloudy weather, or that experience very short days for a significant portion of the year won’t provide as much electricity as panels set up in areas with consistently sunny weather. Panels that aren’t operational require homes to either draw power from backup batteries, or their local electrical grid. When panels are able to operate efficiently, however, and there are enough of them to provide for a home’s needs, then there’s virtually no need for any help from the grid; the home can depend entirely on free solar energy to power itself instead. If the panels end up producing more electricity than the home needs or is able to store in batteries, then this surplus power can even be sold back to the electric company. Not only does this mean that solar panel owners can save a lot of money on their residential utilities, it means that their panels pay for themselves over time.
Residential solar power is an important component of a renewable energy strategy. Not only can residential solar panels provide for their owners’ needs and reduce their dependence on fossil fuels or nuclear power, they can also provide for the needs of the community with the power they sell back to the grid. If you are considering a solar array and are put off by the initial setup cost, it’s worth looking into any potential rebates you might be entitled to and the potential energy savings a solar panel can give you. Not only will you lower your utility bills, you’ll be contributing to a cleaner, brighter, more sustainable future.