Four in 10 parents will enforce digital detoxes to avoid huge energy bills over summer

New study says mums and dads unsure how to keep kids entertained due to pandemic

Third of parents admitted they’re as much to blame for higher bills over summer months
Third of parents admitted they’re as much to blame for higher bills over summer months

Millions of parents are feeling worried about how to keep their children entertained this summer.

A study of 2,000 mums and dads found 69 per cent feel that this year’s summer holidays will be harder than usual.

And 41 per cent are feeling the heat to keep their children busy as the summer holidays get under way because many have already had their offspring at home since March.

But parents are also wary of letting their children spend too much time engaging in energy-consuming activities such as watching TV, playing on a games console or using a mobile phone.

As a result, four in 10 are planning to encourage a digital detox for their kids this summer in a bid to save money on their household energy bills, with 24 per cent worried about their energy consumption during the holidays.

It also emerged half of parents (50 per cent) notice an increase in their energy bills over the summer holidays due to having the kids at home.

To inspire and help families, Smart Energy GB, which commissioned the research, has worked with Helen Skelton and The Wild Network to create 42 sustainable things to do over the summer holidays, including energy-free activities – an activity for each day of the holidays.

Helen Skelton said: “As a mother of two young boys who have been at home for most of lockdown, I know how hard it is to keep them entertained and occupied over the summer months.

“As a family, we really try to have at least one hour a day of energy-free time, and while we are outside a lot and away from devices as much as possible, it can sometimes be tricky to think of new things to do.

“One thing I’ve learnt during this time is that I can help them start to understand the importance of how we use energy at home and turn it into a fun thing to do – for example using my smart meter to have a competition to see which day of the summer holidays was the lowest and why.”

The study also found it’s not just using gadgets and devices which add to an increase of household energy use.

Children typically forget to turn off the lights or the television when they’re at home with more than a quarter not powering down a laptop, according to the OnePoll survey.

However, a third of parents admitted they’re as much to blame for leaving electricals on standby.

It also emerged that Wi-Fi routers, TVs and mobile phone chargers were the items most commonly left plugged in or on standby in the home.

But figures from Energy Saving Trust estimate families could save £14 over the summer holidays alone – just by turning appliances off standby and switching off lights when not in use.

That’s enough for six tubs of ice cream to share out at family picnics, or enough to replace your light bulbs with a couple of energy-saving ones.

If all the households in Britain turned off their appliances and lights when not in use or on standby over the summer holidays, the money saved would be the equivalent of the weekly food shop for 4.5 million families.

The study also found 54 per cent of parents admitted their family will be spending more time at home during the summer holidays than usual this year.

Fflur Lawton, head of public affairs at Smart Energy GB said: “As a mum myself, I know parents are facing a new and unique challenge this summer – and keeping kids entertained who are already used to being at home is no mean feat.

“With many families opting to stay at home while school is out, increased energy use during the holidays may mean an increase in energy bills.

“But a simple way to better manage your usage is to get a smart meter installed.

“What’s more, households with a smart prepay tariff can easily see how much credit remains and can top up remotely – even if you’re keeping the kids amused at the park.”

The study also found that watching TV together, cooking and baking as a family and playing in the garden were some of the top things children will be doing over the school holidays.

But concerns about energy usage means 54 per cent of parents are keen to keep their kids entertained by exploring the outdoors.

Nearly half (47 per cent) are considering new activities they haven’t tried previously, with almost a third interested in encouraging the family to take up sustainable pursuits this summer.

Fflur Lawton added: “The 42 sustainable things to do have been designed to give parents and guardians some inspiration on how to keep the kids occupied while having some energy-free time and saving a few pounds in the process.

“There are some other steps parents can take to save money as they prepare for another six weeks of keeping their children occupied at home.

“Contacting their energy supplier about getting a smart meter installed will help to monitor and manage their energy consumption, and even reduce energy use, as well as helping Britain become carbon neutral by 2050.”

Go to smartenergygb.org to download the activities and get more information on how to manage your energy with a smart meter.

SWNS

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