Children living in a smart home eco-shame parents’ efforts to be green

A study of 2,000 parents found kids who live in a home with a smart meter are twice as likely to pick their parents up on their bad habits, compared to those who live in homes without the tech.

And the data suggests that by having eco-friendly gadgets in the home, children as young as four are even more aware of what needs to be done to save the environment – reminding their parents about good practices three times a week.

It emerged children living with a smart meter are more likely to eco shame their parents for setting the thermostat too high, leaving electrical items plugged in and putting the washing machine on a hot cycle.

They’re also more switched on to whether more water is being boiled than needed when a kettle is on, and whether or not the TV has been left on standby, than those children without electronic devices recording energy in the home.

A spokesman for Utilita Energy, which carried out the research as part of its #EnergyHigh5 campaign, said: “It sounds like home-schooling might have been flipped on its head – well, environmental studies, anyway!

“Knowledge is power, so it’s natural for kids to show an interest in what the numbers and graphs mean on an In-home Display (IHD), and see how their actions can make it change.

“And it’s good to see parents who were being eco-shamed by their kids said they felt either proud of them for taking charge, or happy that they care about the environment.”

Across the nation’s families as a whole, as many as two in five parents have been eco-shamed at some point by their little ones, with a third believing their offspring care more about the environment than they do themselves.

The same amount confess their kids are a lot more knowledgeable about how to save energy around the home than they are.

More than half (54 per cent) of the parents polled also think younger people are more mindful of the environment because any changes made now could improve their future – whereas older people care less as they won’t see the consequences of their behaviour.

Children aged 15-16 are most likely to moan to mum and dad about their recycling behaviour, while eight to 11-year-olds are top for telling parents off for littering.

The emotion adults feel after being eco-shamed by a child wasn’t shame or guilt, however – it was pride in their youngster’s environmental awareness.

Although 25 per cent admitted to feeling like a ‘bad example’ when they got something wrong, according to the OnePoll research.

And with kids taking the lead in terms of saving energy at home, just under two thirds of parents know they have more work to do.

While 46 per cent went as far as to say they feel guilty about not making more of an effort to reduce their home energy use.

Utilita’s spokesman added: “Doing the right thing by the environment can feel a bit overwhelming – be it reducing food waste, cutting down on energy or water use or embracing solar energy, but it’s the little things we choose to do that will all add up to make a big difference.

“It’s these small changes over lots of different areas will add up to make a big difference – especially with the younger generation leading the way.”

1.       For throwing something in the bin which could have been recycled, such as a tin can
2.       For leaving the tap running
3.       For leaving lights on when they are not in the room
4.       For buying items in packaging which can’t be recycled
5.       For not washing out items, such as cans, so they can be recycled properly
6.       For buying items such as balloons or plastic straws, which can be damaging to the environment
7.       For leaving the TV on standby
8.       For leaving electrical items plugged in, when they aren’t being used
9.       For using the car instead of walking
10.   For chatting at the front door, letting the warm out / cold in when the heating is on
11.   For boiling more water than they need
12.   For littering
13.   For washing clothes at a temperature higher than 30 degrees
14.   For setting the thermostat too high
15.   For putting the heating on when wearing light clothing

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