Ignite Summer with an Energy-Saving Family Competition

Kids bored already?  Break out of the monotony this summer by organizing a competition between family members that will build excitement for vacations, family outings, or valued prizes.  The contest is simple and involves doing worthwhile things such as researching to find the cheapest electric company and adopting a renewable energy project.  Besides having fun with this friendly challenge, you will cut the cost of your electricity bill, even if your AC is battling the sweltering Texas heat.  In Dallas, Houston, and everywhere else in Texas, teachers are hoping students will keep their minds active over the summer.  This exciting activity can also keep the kids on their toes while school is out.

Style the competition so that it works for your family and everyone has an age-appropriate activity.  Here’s an example of a contest that could work in a household with three children above age 8, for instance:

Challenge everyone in the family to come up with a way to conserve energy, and the person who finds the idea that can be calculated to save the most money gets to choose an important detail about the family vacation destination or pick a favorite restaurant to go to for a night out.  There could be a prize for everyone; the trick is to make the top awards the most desirable for everyone.

Each family member can come up with their own conservation plan or you can put each of the following ideas into a jar for a drawing and give out awards according to who does the most outstanding job with their project – in this scenario, let an objective third party be the judge.  Imagine your kids actually helping you save money for a change!

Utility Crusade:   Find out which is the cheapest electric company and switch.

Some electric companies are just cheaper than others.  Why not save money on every turn of the meter by choosing the company with the lowest rates?  You can often sign on to a one- or two-year commitment which provides guaranteed rates.  Find out which utility company offers the least expensive price per kilowatt of electricity.  Compare power companies here.

Quest for Clean Energy:  Research to identify a renewable energy investment that makes sense for your family.

The government at the federal, state, and local levels can come to the aid of Texans, from Houston to Dallas and everywhere else, by assisting with the purchase of solar energy.  Advocates of renewable energy are currently excited about new energy buyback and leasing programs being offered by retail utility companies in Texas to motivate more homeowners to switch to solar energy.  Whether it’s solar, wind, or some other renewable resource, investigate which is the best project to benefit the family.

Beefed up Insulation:  Research the benefits and costs of improved insulation and weatherization.

A lot of energy is wasted because hot air leaks into your home in the summer and the cold air invades in winter.  Find what it would cost to add more insulation in the attic, make windows better insulated, etc., as well as how much each upgrade would potentially save in monthly electric bills.

Battle of the Bulbs:  Compare costs and savings related to switching to more efficient lighting.

Only 10% of standard (old-fashioned) light bulbs provide light, and the rest of the energy produces heat.  Look into alternatives for lighting the home with more efficient bulbs, such as switching to using more fluorescent lighting.

Pump Diversion Tactics:  Figure out ways to save on gasoline, including purchasing a new vehicle.

If you have a teen who is driving or looking forward to it, this may be their ideal assignment.  Figure out all the best ways to cut down on costs at the pump, from walking to the corner store instead of driving to purchasing a new, more energy efficient automobile.

Tweak your family competition so that everyone enjoys learning and trying to win some coveted prize.  Then follow through on some of the energy-saving discoveries made.  In the end, you’ll be able to sit back and enjoy smaller energy bills from the cheapest electric company while reminiscing about the fun your family had together this summer finding ways to save money.  Share this with your Facebook friends, and see who else joins the challenge!