Study: Children Pass on Energy Conversation to Parents

And the Children Shall Lead in Energy Conservation

Bloomington, IN – A recent study in the journal Nature Energy reported that when children are taught to turn off power strips at night and wash clothes in cold water, their parents starting following their lead and doing the same.

The study, which involved 318 Girl Scouts, all fourth and fifth graders in Northern California, was conducted by Oregon State University and Stanford University and was published at the end of July 2016.

The goal was to teach the girls new energy-conservation behaviors and to see if it could impact their actions regarding energy efficiency as well as the actions of their families.

Before the five-week program began, the girls and their parents completed surveys regarding their knowledge of energy conservation and if this awareness had impacted their practices in conserving energy. They were then surveyed again directly after the instruction and for several months following.

The results of the study found that the girls actively practiced the steps they were taught. Further, they soon taught and encouraged their parents to adopt the same energy-saving steps, which they did for an average of seven months and longer.

“The findings suggest that these kinds of educational programs could have a significant and lasting impact on family energy consumption,” says Hilary Boudet, an assistant professor of climate change and energy at Oregon State University and lead author of the paper.

“Children are a critical audience for environmental programs because their current behavior likely predicts future behavior.”

Stephen Ashkin, CEO of Sustainability Dashboard Tools, Inc., says the study and its results represent even more to him.

“Teaching children about ways to reduce energy [consumption] and promote sustainability at a young age means it can become part of a child’s behavioral makeup,” says Ashkin. “It can become the foundation for creating a ‘culture of sustainability’ in this country and globally.”