Happy Fathers Day! Below is a very witty, thoughtful, and well-written op-ed that was published in the Akron Beacon Journal this Saturday in honor of Fathers Day. Rich Fein is an all-star volunteer with the Portage Trail Group and Chairs their Energy Committee. Read on, and take a page from a real leader in clean energy.
Hello Dads of America. Today is that one special day when you have complete control. Your kids have explicit instructions to make you happy, no matter how much they would rather spend their time with their friends.
We all know that this is the day you get those treasured neckties, unusual sport shirts, extra tools and oldies CDs. It’s the opportunity for your children to show their appreciation for your hard work, including your many thoughtful and persistent efforts to instill in them the values you believe are critical towards their well-being and success – no matter how hard they resist.
Fathers Day is also the official warm-weather day to bond with your kids. It’s time to break a window while playing catch, twist an ankle on a hike, get sunburned at the beach, or lose a dozen golf balls by teaching them the game. So why not use that bonding moment on an activity that will save you money while instilling a perspective
that will help protect their future and that of their own children. Spend Fathers Day using energy more efficiently.
Why should we encourage our children to be energy efficient? Let’s start with the indisputable fact that whether or not you believe that humans are causing the Earth to get warmer, saving energy is a good habit. You can expect to pack away hundreds, if not thousands of dollars per year by using energy more efficiently. Multiplying that by 18 years will contribute handily to a college fund. Additionally, learning and practicing energy efficiency prepares your children for their careers. Businesses and institutions around the world are paying closer attention to their energy costs. Implanting thoughts that can save money for an employer can go a long way.
A comparison with other economically developed, highly-industrialized nations reveals how embarrassingly inefficient we are. Let’s take electricity usage as one example. We use 80% more electricity per capita than both Germany and Japan, one hundred percent more per capita than Israel and 116% more than Great Britain.
We Americans can be far more efficient in our energy usage, while actually improving our standard of living. As noted, you can increase your savings. Plus, when American industry uses energy more efficiently, we reduce our production costs, making us more competitive in the global marketplace. We also create demand for energy efficiency goods and services. It all translates into increased savings, increased investment and more jobs.
Even if you aren’t convinced that the planet is heating up due to human activity, perhaps it’s time to take out a philosophical insurance policy for your family. There is little dispute that the planet is getting warmer. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, we just went through the warmest January through May ever, shattering the previous record of average temperatures by 2.0 degrees F. Also, in case you missed it as you’ve moved seamlessly between your thermostatically controlled home, garage, car and office, 13 of the last 15 years have been the hottest on record. Why take the chance that burning fossil fuels is not causing the planet to get hotter, especially when you can save money in the process.
Here’s just a sample of some ways to spend Fathers Day, and other days, being more energy efficient with your kids.
• Install a high efficiency shower head. Let them pick it out. They are easy to install, so older children can do the work for you. But make sure you remind them that using less water per minute does not give them the right to take longer showers.
• Get a hot water heater blanket. It will take only about 20 minutes to install.
• Search around your home for all the remaining heat producing, energy-sucking incandescent light bulbs and replace them with cooler compact fluorescent bulbs. Even if the old bulb has not yet burned out, you’ll quickly recover your investment in the CFL through energy savings and reduced home cooling.
• Walk, or if there isn’t too much traffic in your neighborhood, ride bikes to a store. Your journey will likely start with whining about using such an archaic form of transportation, but that will subside if you can establish a conversation that interests them…even if it starts with Justin Beiber. Try your hardest to keep the iPods at home.
• Install a programmable thermostat. This can reduce your heating and cooling cost by as much as 30%.
• Take them on the public bus if they don’t use it already. Show them how to plan their route and pay the fare.
• Compare veggie burgers to beef burgers at your cook out.
Ask your kids to suggest an energy saving activity or an affordable energy efficiency investment that they learned in school. They’ll be less likely to complain about doing the work. And even if they do complain, just remind them that you’re teaching them what fathers are best at – being cheap for their own good.
Energy Chair – Sierra Club Portage Trail Group