Getting Everyone Involved

Saving energy shouldn’t be a project one person takes on alone—the whole household needs to be involved. Getting everyone in the household, whether we have roommates or family, involved in saving energy helps us save much more energy and money than trying to save energy on our own. Here are some ideas for how to get your whole household involved in saving energy.

Ideas for Everyone:

  • Start an energy "swear" jar
    • This idea works the same way as a traditional swear jar, but with a twist. Instead of paying the price for colorful language, we pay up for wasting energy. You can also set larger penalties for energy-wasting actions you think will have the biggest impact on your bill.
  • Take a refrigerator inventory
    • We’ve all spent a little too much time browsing in front of the refrigerator figuring out what we want. Keep the cold air inside by creating a refrigerator inventory! Either write a list or take a picture of everything in your refrigerator and tape it to the front. Every time something is used up, cross that item off the refrigerator inventory. With the picture/ inventory on the front of the fridge, we can keep the door closed until we know exactly what we want.
  • Find air leaks with the ribbon experiment
    • You can find air leaks in your home by using a piece of ribbon (or a piece of a plastic bag)! Hold the ribbon or piece of plastic bag up around window frames and doorframes. If the ribbon flutters, that window or door needs weather-stripping. If you have kids, this is a constructive way to keep them occupied on a rainy day.
  • Put a bell on it!
    • Attaching a bell on the handle of the front or back door can give everyone coming into your home a reminder to shut that door! It’s something you can listen for whether it’s just you, or you have a whole house full of guests. Over time, it will become habit to hear the jingle of the door as it opens and closes. Don’t heat or cool the neighborhood! Keep the door firmly closed!
  • Make your shower jam session work for you
    • You can help limit the length of your shower by playing music! Turn on the jams when you’re stepping in the shower and jump out after 2 or 3 songs. Most popular songs run between 2 and 3 minutes- the perfect amount of time for an energy saving shower. Just make sure you get out before "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" comes on!


Ideas for Families With Kids:

  • Family energy-free nights
    • Select one day out of the week where your family will participate in energy free activities. Instead of watching TV or playing video games schedule a family biking trip, picnic or even a family board game night. Not only will you save on your energy bill, but you’ll also gain more quality family time!
  • Energy Hog Scavenger Hunt
    • Do you live in an energy efficient household or is your house an energy hog? Participate in this energy usage scavenger hunt provided by to find out the energy efficiency of your household.
  • Make it a game
    • Get your kids to help you keep track of energy savings around the house by having them keep score! The idea here is to assigning points to each energy-saving technique you share with your kids. When you see the kids engaging in energy-saving behavior, such as making sure they turned off the light, they get a point. When they waste energy, like by not closing the front door all the way, they lose a point. When the kids get enough points, they get a reward. These rewards don’t have to cost anything, they can be simple things like allowing the kids to stay up an hour later one night or getting permission to go out with friends or even an extra snack. The value of the reward doesn’t matter, what matters is that you choose rewards that the kids in your life want and that they always get the reward they have earned. You can even give out bonus points if the kids choose to go electricity-free for a day (ex: you find them reading a book instead of using electronics or they ask to go outside to play etc.). You can also quiz the kids while you’re in the car or when a tie occurs.                                                                                         
    • Another option to make saving energy a game is by playing “I Spy”. Ask the kids to find energy saving activities around the house and have them point out energy-saving products at the shops. This will keep them, and you, interested in saving energy.
  • Online Energy Saving Games
  • Team up with the TV!
    • Time your kids’ showers based on what they like to watch. One Watt Watchers Grandma would have her grandchildren start their showers about 5 minutes before their favorite show came on. Sure enough, the kids were out and clean before the opening theme song finished.
  • The cleanest race
    • Use sibling rivalry to your benefit! Have the kids compete to see who can get closest to a 5-minute shower while still getting clean!
  • Make it their job
    • Kids love feeling like they're helping the adults around them. So, make the most out of your kids' desire to help and put those kiddos to work! Assign each child a special energy saving job, like:
      • Thermostat Monitor- The thermostat monitor checks the thermostat several times throughout the day to make sure the temperature is not too hot or cold—of course they need permission to touch that thermostat though! Older kids can set the programmable thermostat if you have one, though those kids don’t like helping as much as the young kids)
      • Light Patrol- The light patrol checks for lights left on around the house and turns them off.
      • Energy Vampire Slayer- The Energy Vampire Slayer checks for energy vampires all throughout the house and unplugs them as they go. Just be sure to give clear rules as to what should and should not be unplugged.
  • More family activities