Teens have the Power!

About the author: Amanda Sweda joined EPA’s Office of Environmental Information in 2001 and develops policy development for Web related issues and serves on the Environmental Education Web Workgroup. Amanda is a former Social Studies and Deaf Education teacher and is married to a math teacher so education is an important topic in their home.

image of author sitting on a rockRecently my dad and stepmom came to visit me and told me about the new house they bought. My dad told me about what they are doing to the house to get ready for moving in – painting, new appliances, and some remodeling. I asked my dad if he had bought Energy Star kitchen appliances and the blank look on his face said it all – he didn’t know. I was disappointed that I had missed an opportunity to help my parents make environmental decisions appropriate for them and potentially save a lot of money on their electricity bills, water consumption, etc. over the years.

My dad didn’t talk to me about any of these decisions probably because I don’t live at home anymore (and haven’t for a long time). This is not to say that my dad wouldn’t have appreciated the advice. I remember when they first moved to New York State over a year ago he asked my younger sister about cell phone plans. He ended up buying the phones that my sister recommended. I guess he thought my sister was more technical savvy, but this means he listens to at least one of his daughters!

My dad is not alone when it comes to asking for technical help from the kids. Turns out there is tons of research that shows parents rely on their (teenagers) kids’ advice when it comes to making purchases especially for electronics. Guess my dad doesn’t ask me because I am not a teenager anymore! It might be hard to believe, but teenagers like you have a lot of power to help your parents make all kinds of purchasing decisions.

I am sure you can’t imagine buying a washing machine or a dishwasher right now, but someday you might. Or it could be a new microwave, TV, or other electronic device. It doesn’t even have to be about electronics – there are all kinds of home improvement projects you could do with your family. Or maybe you have been dreaming about a car to drive when you can – you’ll definitely want to participate in that decision! Now’s a good time to practice making these kinds of decisions and working with your parents to figure out what works best for your family and budget.

Check out the Energy Conservation page on our Web site for some tips. What are some ways that you have already helped your family with these types of decisions?