What does it take to get kids to save energy? Even if it’s just a simple reminder to turn off the lights, that message can get old after awhile – which is why the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is inviting kids and families to join Team ENERGY STAR. Team ENERGY STAR makes saving energy fun for kids while giving parents free resources they can use to explain why energy efficiency needs to be a priority at home. The program is particularly unique because it empowers kids to help protect the climate and our air through easy-to-implement, money-saving actions.Essay Contest Gives Kids a Chance to Show What They Really Know About Saving Energy - and Win Some Prizes, Too.
It also provides them an outlet for sharing their passion for preserving our environment. This year ENERGY STAR has partnered with the parents group PTO Today and LG Electronics to share Team ENERGY STAR with kids across the country . PTO Today has even brought in the heroic characters from a new summer animated eco feature film, EPIC, which is sure to excite kids of all ages. The movie, voiced by Amanda Seyfried, Beyonce Knowles, Colin Ferrel, and other celebrities you'll recognize, features a young girl who finds herself transported to a beautiful natural world, a world she needs to protect.
Kids who sign up for Team ENERGY STAR and share their story through www.energystar.gov/team will be showcased in social media by EPA. They can also enter PTO Today’s contest for best story. Winners will receive ENERGY STAR certified LG electronics, including cell phones, TVs and MP3 docking stations. Plus, they’ll get their name and photo up in lights on LG’s Times Square billboard in New York City.
Team ENERGY STAR’s
summer outreach has inspired dozens of moms and families to get their kids
involved, as demonstrated by this blogging carnival, written mostly by moms who
are concerned about the health and climate impacts using energy has on our
families and communities -- and who believe we all can do something to make a difference.
YOU + YOUR KIDS = HEROES!
Harriet of Climate Mama writes , “As summer approaches and we look forward to enjoying family activities like camping, hiking, walks on the beach, fishing, swimming and biking – all of which nature helps make more magnificent – our families are also confronted by new and daunting challenges that nature is angrily throwing our way: extreme weather, floods, droughts, forest fires, allergies on “steroids,” and super storms. What’s making these weather events worse and how can we “fight back” against these new challenges? Where and who are the heroes that will help us?” Harriet asks. The answer is not Iron Man or the Avengers, but “you and your kids,” along with Mary Katherine, the young girl who saves the day in EPIC, the eco animated film she’ll definitely be taking her kids to see this summer.
Shane of Environmental Booty sees the potential for her kids to be heroes, too. “Team ENERGY STAR puts the power in kids' hands to help protect the climate through easy-to-implement, money-saving actions and provides them an outlet for sharing their passion for preserving our environment,” she writes.
Last year, Shane’s daughter won the ENERGY STAR challenge, and she is encouraging kids this year to enter the contest, too. “The first 200 families to submit an energy-saving story will receive 2 tickets each to see EPIC, courtesy of Fox. Kids will also get the chance to earn some great prizes from LG Electronics USA and maybe even see their name in lights in Times Square.” Sounds like fun!
It IS fun, says Dominique at My Work at Home World , which is why this initiative is so successful. "Ever wondered how to get your kids involved in saving energy AND the environment? ENERGY STAR has a simple and FUN answer! Team ENERGY STAR! Team ENERGY STAR makes learning about how to save energy fun and can help SAVE THE WORLD! What kid (or parent?) doesn't want to be a hero?"
SUMMERTIME IS THE PERFECT TIME TO GET STARTED
Allyson at EcoNews Network agrees that summer is the perfect time to take energy efficiency seriously. It’s “the season where energy consumption skyrockets,” she notes. “That’s why it’s important to get our kids to hop on the energy efficiency bandwagon. They can finally do something eco-friendly, especially while at home on their summer breaks.”With the average home giving off more than 20,000 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year and homes spending more than $2,000 per year on energy bills, she says, “our children should know how and why it’s important to save energy. Kids might think saving energy is boring, but there’s a way to make it fun, and that’s where Team ENERGY STAR comes in handy.”
Linda of Asian Mommy agrees. “Team ENERGY STAR is a great way to inspire kids and families to save energy. I hope all Asian Mommy readers will visit the website and join.”
Dorinda at Raising Green Richmond Kids is another mom who appreciates that “Summertime is a great time of year to talk to your children about energy conservation as energy use goes through the roof. At our home our children know about the little things they can do to help save energy around our house. We have talked about turning off the lights and TV when leaving a room, dressing warmly so we can keep the thermostat down a degree or two.” ENERGY STAR makes it easier to help kids understand how they make a difference.
Paige at Spit That Out the Book recalls that “Every summer when the air conditioners in my neighborhood go into full blast mode, we experience frequent power outages. It’s amazing how much energy it takes to power just one street! That’s why it’s important to consider the small steps of energy saving and upgrading broken appliances with ENERGY STAR certified products.” She also appreciates that “Team ENERGY STAR empowers kids to help protect the climate through easy-to-implement, money-saving actions and provides them an outlet for sharing their passion for preserving our environment.”I raise a red flag over at Moms Clean Air Force. "Summer brings many great experiences and memories for families—barbecues, swimming, hot nights and summer movies. It also brings a familiar and unpleasant sight for many communities—a smoggy skyline and poor air quality that can make it tough for kids to breathe," I report. "Fortunately, you don’t need to be an expert on smog to be able to explain that one way to clear the air is by shifting to cleaner sources of energy like solar and wind. It’s even easier to explain that using energy more efficiently – using less energy to do the same job – is something that everyone can do at home. Plus, using energy more efficiently helps reduce the gases that cause climate change."
Calley at The Eco Chick is worried about extreme weather events. “With summer approaching quickly, it’s time to start thinking about hurricane season again in Florida; except Florida isn’t the only place where hurricanes can strike. Our biggest fear when moving to Tampa was of hurricanes and having to run from them each year. What we realized is that these storms can strike anywhere and are likely to cause more damage to those areas that are not prepared. Scientists have been indicating that climate change may be to blame for increased hurricane strength, making them even more dangerous. With Hurricane Sandy devastating areas of New York it makes me wonder what this year’s hurricane season will look like.” Calley offers “7 Things You Can Do to Save Energy,” including joining Team ENERGY STAR.
Katy at Non-Toxic Kids also worries that “the Earth’s climate is changing in ways that can have serious consequences for public health. Climate change will likely increase the number of people suffering from illness and injury due to more pollution, extreme heat, floods, storms, droughts and fires as well as allergies and infectious disease. The elderly, the very young, the disabled, and the poor alone are especially vulnerable, as are people with heart disease or asthma. Climate change is also expected to cause more severe allergy symptoms because a warmer climate promotes the growth of molds, weeds, grasses and trees that cause allergic reactions.”
THE BENEFITS OF SAVING ENERGY THE ENERGY STAR WAY
Lisa from Condo Blues knows first hand that saving energy saves money. “In 2008, I did a DIY home energy audit using the energy audit tool on the Energy Star web site. The tool suggested a low and a high energy savings goal. My husband and I decided to try reducing our energy use by the high goal, 20%, as a year long project.” That sounds ambitious right? Even so, says Lisa, we reduced our home energy use by 32%. We beat our goal and have been happily averaging 15 Kilowatts of electricity a day ever since.” Why was Lisa so successful? She says it’s because she didn’t try to tackle energy efficiency alone. “It was a family effort,” she reports, like the kind ENERGY STAR promotes, and it made all the difference.
Claire at EcoFriendly Link backs up Lisa’s personal findings with some amazing national statistics. “In 2012, ordinary Americans reduced their utility bills by a staggering $24 billion” by being energy efficient, she says. When you save energy, “you use less power. So you generate less pollution and improve air quality. Climate change threatens human health, society and ecosystems…and is likely to make allergies even worse.” What she likes about ENERGY STAR is that “you don’t need to sacrifice features, style or comfort,” which is why she is referring her readers to ENERGY STAR for ideas on how to save energy and find energy-efficient appliances.”
Jennifer at The Smart Mama is on a whole-household quest to save energy. She's in the middle of a major remodel, and figures buying ENERGY STAR appliances is the smart thing to do (well, after all, she is "the smart mama!"). "Most of our energy - about 70% of the electricity we use - comes from power plants burning fossil fuels. Burning fossil fuels causes greenhouse gas emission - the gases that contribute to climate change." That alone would be reason enough to get on the ENERGY STAR bandwagon. But Jennifer goes on to note that "burning fossil fuels spews out a host of chemicals that cause severe health concerns for those living near and far from the power plants...Much of the mercury contaminating our seafood is a result of mercury released from fossil fuel burning power plants. We are all part of this amazing interconnected web, and our personal choices do matter."
Clay and I teamed up at Ways 2 Go Green to sound a hopeful note. We write, "It's never too early to talk to your kids about saving energy." And the sooner the better! "The lights we use, the electronics we charge, and heating and cooling systems we turn on and off all have an impact and contribute climate change. That's why it's so important to instill energy efficient habits in kids from an early age, and teach an awareness of the impact our energy use has on the environment."
Meanwhile, Micaela at Mindful Momma reports that her 8-yr-old son Liam is taking the mission to save energy to heart. He's also trying to save polar bears, animals whose habitat is literally out from under their feet due to the impact climate change is having in the Arctic. "I've talked with him about all the little things he can do to reduce his personal contribution to climate change (and try to stop the polar ice from melting). Things like turning off the lights when he leaves the room, shutting the refrigerator door quickly and biking to soccer practice instead of driving. Even though individual actions like that may seem tiny, I think it's important to make sure kids realize that they do play a part in protecting the climate."
SAVING ENERGY PROTECTS OUR HEALTH
Anne at Flour Sack Mama sounds the alarm on health concerns related to the energy we use. “Anyone out there not know what an inhaler is? Does someone in your family use one or do you know of a young child who must tote one around for after-school activities? It's become commonplace, hasn't it?”
Anne then asks, “Would you like to be part of an effort to clean up whatever's in the air that could be making children sick? You can start today by simply conserving energy. Little habits like teaching children to turn off the light switch when they leave the room, or home maintenance efforts like installing programmable thermostats and picking ENERGY STAR certified appliances -- can all save your family money while helping clean up America's energy conundrum. We all want a comfortable lifestyle, don't we? None of us intended for our comfortable lifestyle to make children or the planet sick, did we?”
Sommer of Green and Clean Mom acknowledges that “It is hard for (my) children to completely understand that the majority of electricity comes from power plants that burn fossil fuels. They cannot see the power plants to understand this but I explain to them that when we burn the fossil fuels this causes greenhouse gas emissions – which affect the environment. I try to explain that when we don’t have to use as much energy we are helping to not burn as much fossil fuel and this not only saves mom and dad money but means that there are less greenhouse gas emissions and that is good for the environment.”
Why Team ENERGY STAR? Why EPIC?
Amity at Green Child Magazine recommends Team ENERGY STAR as a “fun way to get your kids involved in an environment-saving activity.” “Join Team ENERGY STAR to teach children about the importance of saving energy and stopping climate change using easy, money-saving actions!”
Like many of the other moms, Leigh at Green 4 U is looking forward to taking her daughter to see EPIC. “Kids need good role models but kids also love movies and entertainment. There are so many movies out there about princesses and other excessive things; it is great to see a movie that teaches children about environmental stewardship.”
Leigh is also excited about the contests ENERGY STAR offers – because that’s how she herself got involved. “Winning a recycling poster contest was one of the first steps in my green journey. I love the idea of having kids think about energy conservation and why it is important. If you have kids no matter what age, sit down with them and talk about energy conservation, talk about what you can do as a family, let them research things you can do as a family to reduce your energy consumption and let them help implement it in the house. Encourage your kids to submit an entry to the ENERGY STAR contest. Even if they do not win, the excitement of entering and the conversation you will have together around the entry is worth it.”Sian at That's Amasian appreciates the helpful resources Team ENERGY STAR provides to parents (like her!). "Why? It's the question that plagues all parents of toddlers and preschoolers," she notes. "Kids are endlessly curious about literally everything under the sun and beyond. When we don't have the answers, especially on important issues that affect us all, and that we all can act on (ahem, climate change), I'm grateful for resources for parents, like Team ENERGY STAR. It's an education program that motivates kids and their parents to make energy conservation a fun, family activity. And, it's created by the U.S. EPA so you know that it's backed by accurate information and honest intentions."
Lori at GroovyGreenLivin makes it clear why programs like Team ENERGY STAR matter. "Burning fossil fuels causes greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change – a real and urgent challenge affecting people and the environment worldwide. Using energy-efficient products and practices reduces the amount of carbon pollution added to the atmosphere and can lessen the effects of climate change.” In 2012 alone, Americans, with the help of ENERGY STAR, saved enough energy to avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 50 million cars — all while saving $24 billion on their utility bills.” Those are some pretty impressive stats.
Mary Clare of In Women We Trust asks a key question: “Who is setting the direction of our energy program?” Mary’s hope is that, through efforts like Team ENERGY STAR, America’s youth will become educated enough about the importance of energy efficiency and renewable energy to put our country and the world on a clean energy course. “The EPIC ENERGY STAR program provides posters and online/offline games to give kids tangible things to do and learn how to use less energy, thereby lowering family monthly bills. Once energy consumption is lower, then it’s far easier to replace our national energy needs with safe, clean, and renewable energy.”
Jenn at MNN.com applauds the message behind the EPIC movie that "everyone can make a difference for the planet." “I like that motto,” she says. “Even at the tender young ages of 10 and 7, my girls have already seen how great our local playground looks after a clean-up , or how the little efforts we make at home to cut energy use can add up to big savings at the end of the month.” Jenn hopes her readers will sign the EPIC pledge and share their stories for how they plan to protect the planet.
Tiffany at Nature Moms declares that, “For me it is all about the story. Movies transport me to another world and I get to live someone else’s exciting, dangerous, and inspiring life for a couple hours. I love my own life too, don’t get me wrong, but ever since I was a kid I have just loved living in the fantasy worlds created in books and movies. I have already started my mental list of movies that I absolutely must see this summer and at the tippy top is the animated eco film called EPIC…It looks to be the ultimate in story, fantasy, and fun while also having a hugely important message about the environment and stewardship. We have to get messages like this across to kids in a way that really reaches them and resonates with them. It is getting harder to do with all the distractions that abound today but I think this movie will accomplish it. If I can pair my love of movies with my passion for environmentalism AND take my kids along for the ride…well, sign me up for opening day!”
Nikki at Modern Eco Life is looking forward to the movie, too. EPIC...helps teach kids an important environmental lesson: "protecting the planet is cool," she writes. "The 3D movie tells the story of an ongoing battle deep in the forest between the forces of good and the forces of evil. When a teenage girl gets magically transported into this secret universe, she must band together with a heroic team to save their world...and ours." Like Nikki says: Cool!
Kim at The Soulicious Life remembers that , “When it comes to living a more eco-friendly existence, simple energy-saving practices were some of the first habits I adopted. To be honest, it goes way back to childhood when my mother - no doubt trying to control the cost of utility bills - was constantly on us to turn down the thermostat and turn off the lights. Now, I instill those same simple practices in (my child). After all molding the next generation’s little brains around energy-saving techniques is never easier than it will be now!”
Erin at Healthy Home Magazine reminds us all that "Team ENERGY STAR makes it easy and enjoyable for the whole family to save energy and money while they do their part to protect the climate. With help from ENERGY STAR and the heroic team from the upcoming filml, EPIC, everyone can make a difference for the planet."
Lindsay at Crunchy Saving concurs, but has an additional reason to join up. "As a homeschooling parent, I am always looking for fun ways to teach my children. I love to use a combination of things such as hands-on learning, interactive learning, as well as traditional school settings. I check out new websites for the kids all the time. I loved the Team ENERGY STAR web page ...we received some great educational materials about saving energy." Why bother with the suggested activities? "They're fun!" says Lindsay.
Urges Bri at Eco Baby Mama Drama, "Parents, please take this opportunity to not only educate your children about our duty to take care of the planet and be responsible but to also show them that saving energy is the right choice to make for everyone everyday and can be fun too! Encourage your children to share what they have learned with their friends and set a good example through their actions and be a proud member of Team Energy Star! Together we can all make this effort EPIC!"
I hope you'll join Team ENERGY STAR today. To sign up, head over to the Team Energy Star page to download the pledge and pick up other useful resources like the ' Go Green Night Games ' or the Team Energy Star Action Kit . I hope you’ll inspire your child to share a story about why saving energy is important, too.On Twitter ? Join Team ENERGYSTAR June 7, 2013 for a lively Twitter party to share information and ideas on how to get kids, in particular, involved in saving energy. EPA will also announce the winners of the story competition during the party. Use Hashtag #TeamENERGYSTAR to join the fun!
I am writing about Team ENERGY STAR because I support the program and because I believe it is important to educate the public about energy efficiency and climate change. I am thrilled to also be working on contract to help educate the public about energy efficiency and Team ENERGY STAR.