Fall Family Fun Challenge: Week 4

Here is Week Four of the Fall  Family Fun Challenge from the David Suzuki Foundation:

Welcome to Week Four of the fall family challenge!

In this week’s activity, Is your home’s heat blow’n with the wind?, you’ll pay attention to temperature differences inside and outside the home and learn that by reducing the amount of heat leaking from your home, you can help fight climate change. Have fun connecting with nature!

 Is your home’s heat blow’n with the wind? Did you know… if the air leaks in an average Canadian home were combined, they would form a hole as big as a basketball? No wonder houses can feel drafty!

As temperatures drop, tell your family to put on sweaters and send them on a hunt for cold drafts and ways to save energy.

This week, your family will learn that by reducing the amount of heat leaking from your home, they can help fight climate change.

In this activity, you’ll check for exterior cracks around your home and make simple draft detectors to find drafts coming in through doors and windows. While learning how energy is wasted through inefficient buildings, you’ll also think about energy conservation and the connection to the Earth’s precious resources.

Part A: Outdoors

  1.  Take your family outside. Compare the temperature outside to the temperature inside. How does your family maintain a desirable indoor temperature?
  2.  Investigate exterior gaps, cracks and damage to the doors and windows of your house or apartment building. How could these leaks impact the indoor temperature in the winter? How about in the summer?
  3. As you continue to look for drafts, start a discussion of where energy comes from. Do your kids know the difference between renewable and non-renewable energy?

Part B: Indoors

  1. Make draft detectors with your family. Tape a piece of toilet paper about 12 centimetres by five centimetres to the side of a pencil. When you blow on the toilet paper, notice how easily it moves.

Using the draft detector, explore key spots in your house or apartment (windows, doors, mail slots, doggie doors). Which of these are the worst offenders in terms of air leaks? What are some simple ways you can plug up the drafts and stop the air from escaping outside? Ask your family how reducing the amount of heat escaping from your home will benefit nature. Continue the discussion.

Take action.

  1. As a family, make some draft socks to place at the bottom of drafty doors. Fill in drafty cracks and windows with caulking, and replace old weather stripping to make your home more energy efficient.
  2. Look for the furnace in your house or apartment building. Find out how your house is heated and/or cooled. Research where that energy comes from.
  3. Look at your energy bill and develop a math activity to determine how much energy your household can save by lowering the thermostat by two degrees. Multiply that number to find out how much you can save in a week, a month, a year.
  4. Ask your family to imagine an energy efficient home of the future. Consider heating, cooling, appliances, lights, trees and anything else you can think of.

Additional information:

Renewable energy comes from sources that will never run out, like energy from sunlight, wind, rivers, tides, geothermal heat and biomass created from food crops, trees and municipal solid waste. Most Canadians heat and cool their homes with non-renewable energy sources, which means the energy is generated from resources that cannot be replaced in a short time, like fossil fuels and nuclear power.

When we burn fossil fuels to produce energy, we release carbon dioxide and other chemicals into the air. This process contributes to climate change and air pollution. Reducing the amount of energy we use, as well as using more renewable energy sources will help us live within nature’s limits and decrease the effects of climate change.

Top Ways to save energy (and money!) :

Install a programmable thermostat. These turn heat up and down automatically, lowering the temperature when you are sleeping and raising it just before you get up in the morning. These cost around $50 and can reduce heating costs by 10 per cent.

Keep your furnace clean and tuned. A properly tuned furnace burns cleaner and saves energy. This job calls for professional help, but it’s worth it.

Find out how your family can put proper weatherstripping in your house where it leaks. Learn how to caulk the doors and windows of your home. With this one change, you can reduce your heating bill by a whopping 25 per cent.

Get an energy audit done on your home. An energy audit will tell you where you are wasting the most energy and money. They cost $200-$300, but will easily pay for themselves through lower energy bills. Many provinces also have programs to reimburse homeowners on some of the costs of making their homes more energy efficient.

This activity is adapted from a lesson plan entitled “Gone with the wind: Find ways to reduce home heating and electricity” in The David Suzuki Foundation’s resource Connecting with Nature: An educational guide for grades four to six. Download the full guide for free. Please tell us what you think We want to make these lessons as good as they can be. Please take a few minutes to use our online feedback form to tell us what you think.

Today’s “stone” is  Day 297  learning more every day, improving energy use every day,share, share,share, care

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