In the interests of full disclosure, I have to admit that my other half nearly choked on his dinner when I revealed I’d been selected as a Smart Mums energy conservation ambassador for BritMums and British Gas.
I’m not exactly a model of energy efficiency, unless you count the ability to keep a home, two kids and several side projects going while barely out of my PJs.
Still, I’m thrilled to be part of this campaign and discovering ways to save energy is a brilliant challenge for our household as we look forward to the New Year. I’m hoping it will rub off on other areas and we’ll become more efficient all round.
The government plans for all British homes to have smart meters installed by 2019. British Gas is leading the way in installing smart meters in customers’ homes (in advance of a government goal of all British homes having them by 2019) as a way of helping us more effectively monitor and hopefully reduce our energy usage and costs.
As a Smart Mum, my goal is to encourage mine and other families to make smarter choices about how we use energy.
To kick things off, here are some steps you can take to enlist the kids as part of your energy-saving crack team.
Talk their Talk
Hit kids with phrases like ‘energy efficiency’ and their eyes get instant double glazing. Make it a conversation, not a lecture, and use concepts they can understand easily. Like the movie Cars.
If Lightning McQueen left his engine running too long before a race, what would happen?
“He’d run out of power,” Ezra said.
And then what?
“He’d lose!” Jed cried.
So what should he do instead?
“Turn his engine off until it’s time to go!”
Engine = power = energy. A lightbulb moment for the babes.
Assign Special Roles
I went one step further and gave the boys super powers – after all, they’re doing their bit to save the planet. Ezra is ‘Super Saver’ and he gets to double check all the lights, game consoles and other appliances are off when we don’t need them. Jed is ‘Saver Boy’ and his special task is to stop switching on the dishwasher and washing machine when they’re empty (a major challenge).
He’s also practising by taking responsibility for his toys – e.g. switching off the play kitchen after making the thousandth batch of ‘alphabet soup’.
I’m creating a ‘Power Savers’ reward chart for the boys where they get stickers for efforts like putting on an extra layer (so we don’t have to turn up the heating). If they earn enough stickers, they get a treat like a special outing or a new book. Definitely no rewards that require batteries or plugs!
Be a Smart Example
I was chatting with the boys at bedtime about power saving when Ezra noted: “Mum, you’ve left all the lights on downstairs!” Oops.
There’s no point yakking on about energy wastage while the tap’s running behind you. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be trying harder to reduce my carbon footprint so that I can proudly walk the Smart Mum walk.
How about you?
Find out more about smart meters and how they can help you save energy and costs.