Turn the lights off! I bet we’ve all heard this one before. A while ago, we might have thought nothing of this phrase. We probably would have thought, what does it matter if a lightbulb stays on a little too long? Is it really a big deal? Unfortunately for us, it is a big deal. In fact, anything involving the use of power is a big deal in today’s world. Earth isn’t as healthy as it used to be – and us humans are to blame. However, while we are the problem, we are also the only solution. It’s up to us to make big little changes that have a big effect! So maybe “turn the lights off” means a bit more than we think.

Before the invention of the light bulb, illuminating the world after the sun went down was a messy, hazardous task. It took a bunch of candles or torches to fully light up a good-sized room. So while it is awesome that Sir Thomas Edison invented an affordable electrical home lighting device, what isn’t awesome is the amount of power it can use. While each lightbulb doesn’t appear to use that much, lighting accounts for 15% of global electricity consumption and 5 percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. That is a lot for a few lightbulbs. Luckily for us, some awesome dude named Alexandre Edmond Becquerel discovered in 1839 that electricity can be generated from sunlight – calling this Solar energy.

Solar power is the key to a clean energy future. Every day, the sun gives off far more energy than we need to power everything on earth. Solar panels produce electricity by transforming the continuous flow of energy from the sun to electricity. Additionally, solar panels are carbon dioxide free. No harmful emissions are released into the air when electricity is produced by solar panels. Even better, the costs of operating solar panels are low as the process that transforms sunlight into electricity doesn’t require any fuel and has no large variable costs.

Solar energy is a major renewable energy source with the potential to meet many of the challenges facing the world. Luckily for us, this power source is increasing in popularity because it is versatile and is beneficial both to people and to the environment. But it hasn’t been fully implemented yet! We still have a way to go – which is where Kiwi Kids come in.

It’s tricky for us Kiwi Kids to take action as most of us don’t own our own homes yet, we live with our parents or elsewhere. Therefore, we can’t demand that we only use solar power as it isn’t really our decision. What we can do, is make sure we know how important solar power is so that when the time comes, we do use it. If your parents are renovating, suggest solar power. If you hear that your grandparents are buying a new house, try and mention solar power. When you finally build your dream home – make sure it has solar power!

Maybe when you have kids, you will never have to yell, “Turn the lights off!” Maybe.

Critical Thinking Questions:

  1. Why is it a problem if the Earth uses a lot of power?
  2. What can solar powers be used for other than for lighting in the house?
  3. What other benefits can come from using solar panels?

Practical Thinking Questions:

  1. Do you think that solar panels will work as well as the modern lightbulb? Why or why not?
  2. If solar panels were invented in 1839, why do more people not use them in this day and age?
  3. Ask your parents if they would be interested in using solar panels in the house, if possible!

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