Watt Watchers of Texas: Texas is Too Good To Waste™

Our Favorite Watt Watchers Energy Saving Summertime Activities

June 5, 2020

Just because your child is not in school during the summer, it does not mean that the learning should not continue, especially when it comes to lessons and activities about energy conservation. At Watt Watchers of Texas, we know how critical it is that you are able to teach your kids about the importance of saving energy at home and how to do that. We have designed some great summertime energy saving activities that you can do at home with your children to help demonstrate to them some of the lessons about energy they learned in school.

And don’t forget to remind them that they are still a part of the Watt Watchers Student Patrol Program! They are helping Lil’ Tex and Ann stop the Wasters Gang’s from stealing energy around your home. Be sure they are remembering to check the house for wasted energy like turning off the lights in rooms that are not being used and making sure that there are no leaking faucets.

Our Favorite Energy Saving Activities For Summer

There are a variety of different themes and topics that fall under our energy conservation categories, each with their own activities that can be done easily at home. Below are some of our favorite energy saving summertime activities to help you continue to explain to your kids how energy works and why energy conservation is so important.

Make Your Own Ice Air Conditioner

One of the greatest feelings during the summer is going into a nice, chilly air conditioned home or business after being out in the harsh sun. To try to show your kids the basics of how air conditioning works, all you need is a bowl of ice and a simple fan. 

First, have your kids stand in front of the fan to feel the difference in temperature as the fan blows fast moving air around. Then, place the bowl of ice in front of the fan, let it blow for a few minutes, and have your kids feel the temperature difference once again. The melting ice has absorbed heat energy from the environment and cools the surrounding area. You can even try it outside if the inside of your home is already cool.

Plan Your Programmable Thermostat

For those with older children (grade level 6-8), an activity that can teach lessons about cooling and heating as well as how the thermostat temperature affects energy bills deals with programming your home’s thermostat. This activity will take a bit of time and should include a chart that your child can help create.

Heating and cooling costs can be reduced by 10%, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, by adjusting the thermostat during the hours when the home is empty. Have your child think about the times when no one is home (usually at school, work, sports, etc.) and mark those times on a chart. Then identify when the temperature outside is at its warmest and coolest, especially during the summer. Explain to your children that the thermostat can be adjusted for these temperature changes and time frames. During the night, temperatures drop and people are able to sleep with perhaps only a window open or a fan on rather than having the air conditioning running. On the other hand, the hottest parts of the day outside may require the AC to run inside the home to maintain an optimal temperature. 

Discuss among your family what everyone thinks is the most comfortable temperature in the house (this may take a few days to figure out this temperature since most kids tend not to know what the temperature is in the house). Using the time chart that you have created, identify times of the day when the thermostat should be set to that desired temperature depending on the outside temperature and the occupation of the home.

This thermostat programming activity will allow kids to understand how the outside temperature affects the interior of the home and why air conditioning does not need to be running all day, every day. It is also a great way to teach them about energy costs and the rise or fall of your monthly bills.

Investigate Thermal Energy

States of matter change from gas to liquid to solid and back depending on whether they are being heated or cooled. You can help your kids understand the basics of thermal energy by helping to illustrate melting point, boiling point, freezing point, and dew point. All you will need to have on hand is a student-friendly thermometer, 2 cups, ice, liquid water, and a freezer. You should also preface the activity with a bit of information concerning the equilibrium of thermal energy; that is, a substance will remain at the same temperature until the state change has occurred completely. Be sure your kids also know melting/freezing point (0℃/32℉) and boiling point (100℃/212℉).

For this activity, we will focus on freezing and cooling rather than melting and boiling since an open flame may be a bit dangerous even with parental supervision. Begin by pouring liquid water into 1 cup and taking a measurement of the temperature. Place ice into the other cup and try to take the temperature. If it is difficult or you can’t get a good reading, pour water into the cup with the ice, wait a couple of minutes, and then take the measurement of the icy water.

Next, put the cup with water into the freezer and leave the icy water out on a table. Every 15 minutes, take the temperature of both cups. Ice will begin to appear on the surface of the water in the freezer and the temperature will approach 0℃. It will stay there until the entire cup is frozen then it will continue to drop in temperature. As the ice in the cup on the table melts, the temperature should remain at 0℃ until it is entirely melted then the temperature will rise.

Keep Your Cool Naturally

We all know that staying cool in the summer is a top priority, but this takes energy, especially when trying to create cool air using electricity. Many forms of energy that we use to cool ourselves and our homes are made from resources that are limited in supply (non-renewable) and can be easily wasted if we’re not careful.

This activity is designed to help you and your kids think of ways to stay cool without using natural resources through electricity. Strategies like adjusting the thermostat, closing curtains and blinds, shutting doors so the cool air doesn’t escape, opening windows at night rather than running the AC, taking cooler showers, and planting shade trees are all great ways to save energy and stay cool. Can you think of others?

Controlling Water with Building Blocks

In the energy landscape, dams have become a very useful way to create reservoirs for sources of drinking water and irrigation. Kids can learn the fundamentals of creating dams and how they are useful by utilizing building blocks such as LEGO®️. This is a great activity to do outside!

Using the base plate, have your kids create reservoirs, channels, canals, and other structures that will control the flow of water. While they build, they should be thinking about how the water will flow through their creations. When they are done, place the creations in a tray or bin on an incline and have kids pour water over the plate. Ask them how the water is behaving, if it is what they expected, and what happens with more or less water.

Water Conservation at Home

Just like electricity conservation, water conservation is as simple as being conscientious of the ways you use water on a daily basis. As a member of the Student Patrol Program, have your kids make sure that you and your family are being careful about water usage in your home. Use a checklist of steps to reduce water waste:

  • Take a shower instead of a bath
  • Take shorter showers
  • Turn off the water while brushing your teeth
  • Use cool water for clothes and keep the loads appropriately large
  • Rinse dishes all at once after washing rather than individually
  • Plant flowers and vegetables that don’t need lots of water to grow in your climate
  • Set goals for family water usage (shower times, number of toilet flushes, loads of laundry)
  • Dump unused water into indoor plants

These easy steps can help your kids learn more about water consumption and how to reduce water waste.

Solar Oven S’mores Project

(Adult Supervision Required) 

This project is designed to show kids how the sun’s energy can be utilized for light and heat. To make the solar oven, wrap the inside of a cardboard box with aluminum foil and wrap a piece of cardboard that is larger than the box in foil as well. Put the ingredients of a s’more in the box: half of a graham cracker on the bottom, marshmallow on top, then the chocolate square. Repeat with as many s’mores as will fit. Then place the box of s’mores outside in the sun. Use the larger cardboard piece as a reflector for the sun into the box. Watch as the s’mores melt, top them with the other half of the cracker, and enjoy!

Contact Watt Watchers Today! 

If you are a parent who is looking for more opportunities to continue to teach your children about the benefits of energy conservation over the summer, contact Watt Watchers of Texas. We have all of the information and resources you need to keep the conversation with your kids going. Show your children that saving energy (and money) can be fun, especially when they join the Watt Watchers Student Patrol Program to help Lil’ Tex and Ann in their fight against the Wasters Gang. For more information, contact us today!

Watt Watchers of Texas is a Partner Program of Smart Energy Education.
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