Power Smart tips: summer fun for kids, without using electricity
Save energy by choosing fun activities and incorporating challenges as a family
Posted by Tom Bridger
When parents think about the last days of June, they picture the arrival of long hot days, cold drinks, and kids home from school for the summer holidays. But having more people in the house this summer doesn't have to mean higher electricity bills.
Here are a number of summer activities for your family that don't use any electricity at all.
Get out of the house and into nature
One of the easiest ways to keep your BC Hydro bill manageable this summer is simply to get out of the house for electricity-free activities. In British Columbia, we are privileged to have access to some of the nation's most beautiful hiking trails, lakes, and campgrounds. Check out BC Hydro recreation areas across the province for some terrific family hiking trails.
A family camping trip without electricity can also be a fun adventure, as long as you are safe and prepared. You'll want to bring the essentials, such as warm clothes, cooking supplies including a campstove, and materials to start a campfire, if campfires are permitted in your campground and region of B.C.
For camp lights, try using hand crank or solar-powered flashlights and lanterns to generate electricity as a family. These will be a big hit with the kids and will provide ample lighting for your campsite.
Find ways to get the kids involved at home
If you're sticking close to home, incorporating conservation into daily chores and fun routines can make it easier. No matter if your children are two or 20 years old, energy conservation knows no age. Most children will begin to learn about the importance of energy conservation at school, but you can reinforce the message by teaching them how to contribute at home.
- Make it fun: Go through each room of your home and identify "power wasters" with your kids and have them write out a set of energy rules for the family to follow. Which appliances in the kitchen don't need to stay plugged in all the time? In your living room, is your family using a power strip for your television, sound system and PVR? Or, where can your family switch off lights and use sunlight instead? Watch out though: they may just catch you wasting electricity.
- Checklists: Create checklists or reward charts that outline energy-saving activities for your kids to complete each week.
- Make electricity tangible and real: To a child, electricity can seem like something magical that comes out of a wall outlet, an endless power supply to run their toys, electronics, and games. Take them to visit a local dam or BC Hydro Visitor Centre, where they'll learn how electricity gets to your home.
Once the sun goes down
Energy saving doesn't have to stop just because the sun goes down and the lights go on. After your family's hike, paddle boarding session, or camping excursion, keep the night "unplugged" by heading outside and looking up at the stars and constellations instead of the TV.
If light pollution in your area makes stargazing difficult, you can opt for a more energy-efficient movie night — or you can try a family outing to one of B.C.'s dark sky sites near Merritt and Abbotsford.
Watching television or movies through a laptop or tablet can reduce electricity consumption by up to 80 per cent, compared to traditional home theatre set up with a large screen TV, DVD and sound system. You can also consider an old-fashioned board game night as a great energy-efficient alternative to gaming systems or computer time.
Tom Bridger is a community outreach representative who helps educate customers in the Lower Mainland on how to save energy and money.