Getting “unplugged” gets harder and harder these days. We’re so dependent on electronic gadgets and gizmos that it’s difficult to think of a time when I’m not within 5 feet of at least my mobile phone. It seems just about everything we do is behind a screen. Whether I’m at my computer writing a blog post or using my phone to pay a bill, I’m always connected.
I’ve made it my personal mission to make sure my family takes the time to completely unplug and enjoy the dog days of summer. It was time to turn off the phones, TV and tablets and get outside for family fun that was right up our alley.
We wanted to spend these beautiful summer nights outdoors so we brought the bowling alley to our backyard.
Glow Stick Bowling
What you need
10 Glow Sticks
10 empty water bottles
How we did it:
After digging 10 water bottles out of the recycling bin, I simply filled them with water. Next, I activated the Glow Sticks and plopped them in.
All that was left was to put on the lid, grab a ball and bowl.
Once it started to get dark, I set up the “pins.” I must say it looked really cool.
We still had a touch of World Cup fever, so we used a soccer ball and “bowled” with our feet. Simple, easy and a great new spin on an old classic. The kids loved it, and to be honest, so did we. It was hilarious to see just how bad our aim was at first. The best score was obtained by my little one, who is 2. She “bowled” with her hands and feet. And at times, she took off with a pin or two.
It was an unplugged summer night success. Check back to see what activity is next on the list and visit Project Envolve to what fun activities these families came up with.
Did you give glow bowling a try? Comment below with other family fun activities you’d like to share.
Relax and kick back – you’re going on vacation! But don’t take a vacation from saving energy at home. While you’re lying on a beach or exploring a new city, your empty house is still using energy.
Here are some tips to help you save energy while you’re away:
1. Change your thermostat: Set the thermostat temperature much higher than usual. No need to spend money to cool a home when you won’t be there, unless you have pets that will be staying behind.
2. Adjust your water heater: Turn down your water heater to “vacation” or “pilot” mode. Water heating can account for up to 25 percent of the energy consumed in your home, and a large percentage of this cost is to have hot water ready to use, according to ENERGY STAR.
3. Unplug your electronics: Even when your electronics and appliances are turned off, they still use small amounts of power. Unplug your computer, TVs, video game system, coffee maker, etc. Or if these items are plugged into Smart Strips, you can turn off the strip to power down everything at once.
4. Use automated timers: Set an automatic timer on a few lights instead of leaving a light turned on. Consider installing motion-activated lights outside your home. These lights turn on when there is movement near your home.
5. Be shady: Keep your window shades closed. Draw your curtains and close your blinds to shield the air inside your house from the sun. When you return home, let in the fresh air!
6. Turn off fans: Remember, fans cool people, not rooms. When you’re not home, be sure to turn off the fans.
Saving energy doesn’t have to be hard, time-consuming, inconvenient or expensive. You’ll be surprised to know the little things you can do to save on your electric bill.
It took me awhile to get in the habit of doing these simple life hacks, but after seeing my savings, I am never going back. These tricks cost little to no money and don’t take much time. You can save energy and money! Cha-ching! That’s music to every family’s ears.
Ready to get started?
1. Turn off the lights –When you leave a room, hit the light switch! If you tend to forget to turn the lights off, think about installing occupancy sensors that will automatically turn off the light when no one is in the room. Bathroom and laundry room lights were notoriously left on in my house. Not any more, thanks to my occupancy sensors.
2. Use energy-saving light bulbs –Try switching to energy-efficient LEDs. The light-emitting diode bulbs use less energy than traditional incandescents and can last for more than 20 years.
3. Shut off computers – If a computer won’t be in use for over two hours, remember to turn it off or unplug it. If you are just stepping away for a few minutes, put your computer in sleep or hibernate mode rather than a screen saver. Screen savers don’t save energy.
4. Use smart power strips – Plug your devices into a smart strip. These smart strips work especially well for entertainment centers. They will automatically turn your DVD player, game system and other peripherals off when you shut off the television. If you have a regular power strip, simply turn the power strip off to turn off all the devices at the same time. Devices left on are wasting energy and your money.
5. Use your windows – Instead of cranking up the air conditioning at night, leave the windows open. Nighttime is naturally cooler than daytime. On a breezy day, open up the windows to get a nice breeze to cool you down.
6. Unplug phone chargers – I know I’m guilty of unplugging my phone from the charger but leaving the charger in the outlet. I had no idea this wasted energy! It only takes a second to unplug the charger from the wall, so it is really an easy fix.
7. Program your thermostat – When no one is home, why waste energy overly cooling or heating your home? Install a programmable thermostat. Program your thermostat to a higher temperature when the house is empty. You can save about 1-3 percent per degree, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
8. Wash laundry in cold water – Most of your washer’s energy use comes from heating the water, so use cold water whenever you can. Less energy equals more money in your pocket.
9. Landscaping – Plant trees to create shade and naturally cool your house. Besides making your house look prettier, it’ll help you lower your electric bill!
10. Keep air vents clear – Chances are, somewhere in your house a vent is being partially blocked by furniture. Take a few minutes to rearrange your furniture so that all vents are exposed for maximum efficiency or buy vent deflectors. They’re inexpensive and will redirect the air flow around obstructions.
11. Clean or change AC filters once a month – If you change or clean your filters regularly, your air conditioner will function at its best!
12. Use microwave to cook leftovers or small meals – Microwaves use much less energy than an oven, so if possible, heat up your food in the microwave.
13. Let dishes air dry – Use the dishwasher to wash your dishes, but set your dishwasher to the air dry mode.
It can be really tough to pick the perfect gift for Dad. Every year I struggle to think of just the right way to show him how much he means to me. This year I want to get him something that I know he’ll use for years to come. And because I work for the electric company, I wanted to get him something that would be energy-efficient.
I’ve been doing my homework. Here are ten suggestions for the perfect gift for Dad. These items are energy-efficient and can definitely wow him with their “cool” factor.
- Battery powered lawn mower/reel lawn mower: Tired of the loud lawnmower sound and the smell of gas? Think about buying your father a cordless battery-powered lawn mower. They are easy-to-use and very quiet. Mother Nature — and your dad’s ears — will thank you.
- Solar-powered portable sound systems: Speaking of solar-powered devices, there are some cool portable sound systems available. What could be better than a day filled with family, sunshine and great tunes — all while saving energy?
- Multi-device charging dock/solar charger: Face it. Many dads are just as connected as we are. My dad has a work cellphone, a regular cellphone and an iPod. I’d love to buy him a multidevice charging dock because he can charge all of his devices at once, using only one cord! It would save him money, space and use less energy. I’m also thinking about buying him a solar charger so that he can extend the battery life of his devices while fishing, hunting, golfing or camping.
- Tablet: If your dad is into technology or always on the computer, think about buying him a tablet. A tablet can use less energy than a regular desktop computer or laptop because it is not always constantly plugged it. You can even buy an attachable keyboard for easier typing use.
- LED lighting systems: Look for LED lighting systems that use wireless technology to allow Dad to change the light color from his iPhone or iPad – anytime, anywhere! These systems can be programmed to brighten when he wakes up or match the color from one of his favorite photos.
- Cordless tools: Buy Dad some new “toys” and get him cordless power tools. Not only will he enjoy the ability to use the tools anywhere around the house or outside, he will not be tripping over any cords!
- OLED TV: Does Dad love watching the news, the big game or movies? Upgrade his TV to an OLED TV and he will experience better and brighter images, along with more contrast and vivid colors. OLED TV’s are thin, have a faster refresh time and require less energy than an average television. Dad will feel like he’s actually on the field!
- Pressure cooker: Is your dad looking to spice things up in the kitchen? Buy him a pressure cooker! It is one of the most energy-efficient cooking appliances and quickly cooks food. If you’d like, buy him a pressure cooker recipe cookbook to show him all the delicious things he can make with it.
- A new grill: Another energy-efficient cooking appliance is a grill. Buy him some new grill accessories if he already has a grill, such as a grilling tray to whip up some healthy and great tasting vegetables. If he does not have a grill, look at portable grills because they are small and easy to transport! He will be grilling amazing steaks in no time.
- Solar cooler: Make a fishing trip or visit to the beach even better with a solar-powered cooler. Dad will appreciate having cold beverages and ice. Plus, many solar coolers feature a cord to play music.
What are your plans for dad this year? #Dad #HappyFathersDay