14 March 2006

Turn off the lights or pay up

Bill came up with a playful way to remind his kids that wasted electricity costs money:

Kids (and dads or moms) leaving lights on? Doors left open to heat the outside? Tired of haranguing and complaining about the background whirring noise of that gas and electric meter? Time for some economic incentives! We put a jar in the kitchen with a “Gas and Electric” tape-label. When anyone leaves a light on that should have been turned off, the charge is 25 cents (per light switch). Or 25 cents for a door left open that should have been closed. Why 25 cents? High enough make it real (in our house anyway) and not too high to cause any huge meltdowns. The amount may vary in your house depending local economic conditions and price of electricity and gas. You decide. When dad or mom gets busted (the kids love that part), the key is to model exemplary behavior: dig out the change and with great flourish and visible contrition, put the money in the jar. No double-standards allowed. After a few days or weeks of this, you could well be amazed at what a little Skinnerian behavior modification can do. Results? Nothing less than lower gas and electric bills AND family harmony. Note: This technique can also be used for other irksome behaviors: bad table manners, bad language, belching at the table, etc.

Technorati Tags: ,


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Turn off the lights or pay up:

» Cheap Guy: Check out this Parent Hacks tip. from Cheap Chick Says
Saw this little gem on the blog roller/aggregator: http://www.parenthacks.com/2006/03/turn_off_the_li.html... [Read More]

Your comments

Feed Follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

My neighbor combines this with her fitness goals. If she leaves the light on/fridge open/etc. she does pushups. Her kids catch her and think its so funny that she gets them physical for their offenses too. "Drop and give me 10!"

we charge our daughter whenever we have to do her house work for her, but forgetting to turn off lights? i hadn't thought of that one!

at a quarter apiece, between my wife and my daughter, i could have enough for that macbook pro in a few short months... ;)

I know someone who runs a student office at a university who does this with swearing. The jar racked up well over $100 in a year.

We close comments after a month to guard against spam. Want to talk about this hack? Join us on Twitter and Facebook!


Free updates

  • Subscribers are my VIPs. My weekly newsletter includes a personal update, the latest from Parent Hacks, interesting links and news.

    Subscribers also get priority event invitations and occasional surprises via snail mail.

Asha's Book

  • At Amazon: Minimalist Parenting: Enjoy Modern Family Life More by Doing Less

    Find out why doing less is the key to resourceful, thriving kids, and a calmer, happier YOU.

    Minimalist Parenting is an encouraging roadmap for decluttering your schedule, your home, and your vision for family life. Reviewers call it "a much welcome alternative to the usual parenting advice."

    Learn More at Amazon

    Also available at Barnes & Noble or your favorite local bookstore.

New Book Coming Soon!

  • Coming soon: Parent Hacks Book

Start Amazon shopping here