Energy conservation for kids

Energy conservation for kids

How often have you shouted, 'just put a jumper on!’, when your kids complain they’re cold? Or, 'turn off the  light!’  in a bid to save energy? Despite growing awareness about the importance of sustainability, getting kids and teens interested in energy saving isn’t easy. To help them understand why it’s important, here are some tips to help everyone save energy while cutting down on fuel costs.


Our top energy conservation tips for kids


1. Deal with vampire energy

2. Switch off chargers

3. Unplug lesser used items during the day

4. Wear clothes more often before you wash them

5. Only wash full loads of laundry

6. Use paper sparingly

7. Think about how you heat food

8. Turn off taps when brushing your teeth

9. Turn thermostats down by one degree

10. Install a water butt in the garden


30 effective energy-saving habits to instil in your kids 


1.  Show them the real cost of energy 


Do your kids really understand how much energy costs? Do they know what your monthly household overheads are and understand what percentage of this goes on energy? If not, show them how household expenses work.


  • Total up all the energy bills and show them what you need to pay out every month.
  • Next connect real money examples to how energy energy bills are rising. Point out that most people will pay about £1,570 more per year for gas and electricity because the energy price cap is set to jump by 80 per cent.
  • Show them that the cost is equal to the following:
  • The same as an overseas holiday for two. Average cost: £670 per person for a 14-day break.
  • More than the average spend on Christmas in the UK: £905.
  • The same as a brand new iPhone 14 Pro Max with extra memory.
  • Explain what the price jump is equivalent to using a real world example. For instance a £1.39 McDonald's cheeseburger suddenly costing £2.22 per burger or a monthly subscription to Spotify rising from £9.99 a month to £16.98 a month.
  • Finally if you have a smart meter, show them how much is spent each day on gas and electricity. If the meter shows £20 a day, emphasise this adds up to £600 a month, and £1800 a quarter!


2.  Talk about vampire energy


One area where teens can make a difference is with vampire energy saving. An energy vampire (also known as phantom power)  is a device that continues to use energy and drain power even when it's left on standby, sleep mode, or plugged in.  


Examples are:


  • Gaming consoles
  • Phones that have charged *(most smartphones take just an hour to charge. They don't need to be plugged in overnight)
  • Televisions
  • Sound speakers
  • Printers
  • Desktop computers and displays
  • Satellite and cable boxes
  • Microwaves
  • Coffee machines
  • Electric toothbrush chargers
  • Digital clocks


Although you may think one or two things left plugged in won't make a lot of difference, a whole household of appliances sucking vampire energy definitely will. 


Studies have found that phantom electricity accounts for anywhere from 5 to 10% of household electricity usage. New research by British Gas shows that we could save an average of £147 per household on electricity bills each year by switching off these vampire devices.


  • Switch off when not in use. Every cord plugged into an outlet still uses an electric current and many devices in sleep or standby modes continuously use energy for updates, or to connect to remote servers, and record data.
  • Don’t forget the TV. Even when the TV is off, it's still ready to receive a remote signal anytime. Your SKY box is also always "lying in wait" until it's time to record the next show or run behind-the-scenes updates.
  • Unplug devices when charged. Once a device is powered up, it will maintain its charge when in standby mode, even when unplugged. So get your kids to charge and unplug phones, laptops and tablets regularly and turn plugs off after they pull their phone out of the charger.
  • Unplug lesser-used items. Identify the devices which you and your teen use less frequently as this can help stop phantom energy draws. For example, computers can be switched off during school days, hairdryers left plugged in and gaming consoles on standby.


Turn the thermostat down by one or two degrees, this could cut your heating bill by 10%.


3.  Explain how water uses energy


Often kids and even teens don’t realise that the water we use uses energy. So it’s worth pointing out that turning the heating on, and turning the thermostat up means more water is heated, which uses energy. The same goes for showers and baths and the washing machine and dishwasher.

Water is fundamentally linked to energy. Scottish Water, for example, is the largest user of electricity in Scotland. This is why saving water can reduce your water bill  and reduce your energy use and bills.


Your kids can help conserve energy in the following ways:

  • Take showers not baths. A 10-minute shower, instead of having a bath, can save as much as 113.5 litres of water each time.
  • Turn taps off when brushing teeth. Those two to three minutes without the tap on can save two to three gallons of water each day.
  • Don’t throw clothes in the laundry after every wear (undies aside). The UK’s Waste and Resources Action Programme – or WRAP – recommends washing clothes only when necessary, rather than after every wear, and airing garments as a means of freshening,
  • If your teen is using the washing machine, make sure they wash full loads at lower temperatures (20 or 3o, rather than at 40 or 60 degrees). A 1400W washing machine used 7 times a week will cost £3.33 per week, £13.34 per month, and £160 per year.
  • Rinse and scrape plates before putting in the dishwasher (saves re washing) and use the Eco setting. A large chunk of the electricity bill comes  from running your dishwasher, amounting to 8% of your bill, according to Energy Saving Trust. GoCompare estimates that it currently costs 78p a day,  £5.46 a week and as much as £262.08  a year if you run it once a day.
  • Plan ahead and don’t use the tumble dryer. Teens are notorious for wanting things immediately so encourage them to think ahead to avoid tumbler dryer usage. These machines are one of the most energy-intensive devices in the home, drying three loads a week will cost you about £223 a year, whereas putting it on the washing line is free.
  • Install a water butt in the garden. Thousands of litres of rain water fall on the average roof every year. Collecting this water and using it on your garden is better for your lawn and plants, as well as the environment. You can also use the water to wash cars and windows.


4.  Turn off the lights


Is your house lit up like a Christmas tree, with empty rooms lit up? If so, you’re not alone. The typical household could save almost £20 a year by switching off the lights as you leave the room – possibly more, depending on how many lights you have on in a room and how many rooms you have.


Lighting makes up 11% of the average UK household electricity consumption, so switching off could help you save money.


  • Make turning off lights the responsibility of the kids - it’s hard to have control over some of the bigger energy saving tactics but they can easily run round and switch all lights off. 
  • Lead by example - make sure you practise what you preach and turn lights out yourself.
  • Use sticky notes on switches to remind everyone to switch off.
  • Walk kids back to rooms to turn lights off. It’s annoying but it eventually works.
  • If everything fails – sometimes no matter how many times you say things it falls on deaf ears – install motion sensors. A study by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2001 found that installing occupancy motion sensors can reduce energy waste by as much as 68 per cent, and increase energy savings by as much as 60 per cent. 


5.  Energy conservation in everyday life


Conserving energy outside of the house can also help the environment and minimise the use of our energy resources. Here are just a few of the things kids and teens can do.


  • Ride a bike or walk to school. 1 in 5 cars in the morning rush hour are on the school run. Riding a bike or walking to school saves energy, uses minimal fossil fuels and is a pollution-free mode of transport. 
  • Use a reusable water bottle to save around 150 single-use plastic bottles from landfill every year, and help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Recycle your lunch. Ensure you recycle or compost any food and packaging waste. This in turn helps conserve resources and energy used for landfills.
  • Use paper sparingly in school and for homework. Just one kilogram of paper requires 324 litres of water to produce. Help conserve energy at school by using less paper and making sure you use both sides of a sheet.
  • Spend less time on devices with friends.. When devices are used less frequently they don’t require as much charging time. This means that less energy is being used to power electronics. 
  • Save energy when you make a meal. A good one for teens is to think about how they heat food. For example, using a microwave is far more energy efficient than cooking on a traditional gas or electric hob .
  • Save energy on that cup of tea. Ask kids to only heat as much water as they need. Boiling a full kettle extra takes more energy.
  • Keep windows and curtains closed during the day when at school to keep rooms warm. Additionally, in the summer curtains  can block out heat from the sun and keep our homes cooler and avoid having to use fans to cool rooms down. 


How can GoHenry help?


Conserving energy is crucial during the cost of living crisis, as it also helps to save money. So be sure to link these conversations together so your child understands how reducing energy can also cut your household bills. It’s also a good way to talk to your child about spending, and saving money. A GoHenry card will  help bring these conversations to life with Money Missions and our money saving member offers, both on the GoHenry app.



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Written by Anita Naik Published Jan 11, 2023 ● 3 min. read