Plugged in kids

Getting children excited about energy efficiency may seem hard—for some parents, it’s enough of a challenge to get them to do chores! But several websites have been designed with young energy savers in mind.

Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives, the brand “ID” of the nation’s not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives, offers Touchstone Energy Kids Zone (www.touchstoneenergykids.com) featuring a spunky energy efficiency mascot, CFL Charlie. The site is designed to teach children in kindergarten through fifth grade how to be Super Energy Savers in their homes. The Kids Zone also includes interactive games, videos, and surprises.

“The website is all about engagement,” explains Kristine Jackson, Touchstone Energy Cooperatives senior representative for business development. “This is a way for parents to interact with children so the family can focus on energy efficiency together, and help everyone develop energy efficient habits that will last for a lifetime. Through fun activities, students and their parents learn about renewable energy, electrical safety, and energy savings.”

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) has employed Disney’s Tinker Bell character to encourage youngsters to use CFLs and energy-saving smart power strips, as well as closing doors and turning off computers and gaming systems when not in use. 

“The magical thing about using energy wisely is that anyone can do it,” touts the campaign in a video featuring Tinker Bell and her friends at www.energy.gov/tink.

EERE also offers lesson plans, science projects, and more for K-12 students at www.eere.energy.gov/education. For example, elementary and middle school students can make a ‘Draft-O-Meter’ from a pencil and plastic wrap to check for air leaks in their home. High school science and math students can use the lesson plan, ‘Watt Does it Cost to Use it?’ to learn the energy “price tag” for different electric household items.

ENERGY STAR’s website for youth, www.energystar.gov/kids, provides interactive ways to learn how to make small changes with a big impact in places like a child’s bedroom. The site gives guidance on what items use power even when they’re not on (cell phone chargers, certain TVs, etc.) and basic things like air leaks that kids can look for and help their parents fix.

No matter what website you point kids to, the message remains clear. Energy efficiency starts at home, and everyone in the family has an important role to play!

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