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Using the Poster

An Energy Profile
Energy for the Future 
An Energy Budget



Based on an article in
Science & Children Magazine,
Published by the National Science Teachers Association, May 2002


An Energy Budget

This activity aligns with the following National Science Education Standards: Content Standard E: Science and Technology— Understanding About Science and Technology; and Content Standard F: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives—Types of Resources; Populations, Resources, and Environments; Science and Technology in Society.

Graphic showing production and consumption of energy in the U.S. in 2000

Any discussion of the energy issue must focus, at least in part, on the importance of conservation. By reducing our use of energy, it is possible to make supplies of nonrenewable fossil fuels last longer. More efficient technology can certainly play a role in conserving energy resources, but so can personal energy-saving actions. Have the class compile a composite list of the electric appliances that students have in their homes. To come up with a list, you could encourage students to survey their homes or perhaps you could collect store catalogs to jog their memories. Make a room-by-room list of household appliances. Once a list is compiled, encourage students to take copies of it and survey adults of their parents' and grandparents' generations to find out how many of these appliances were in their households when they were your students' age. Or alternatively, invite several senior citizens from your community to come to your class for interviews. Students will no doubt be enlightened and come to understand at least one major reason why energy consumption has been on the rise in recent years.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average household in the United States consumed around 100 million Btu (British Thermal Unit) of energy in 1997. While the overall amount of energy consumed per household has declined somewhat, the amount of energy used for appliances and lighting continues to rise.

Have your students consider how they could reduce their household energy consumption. Below is a list of some common electric household appliances. Make copies of the list and distribute one to each student. Have students check off the appliances they have in their homes and then come up with a list of appliances they and their families could live without. Next, have students develop their own lists of 10 "essential" appliances. Have them prepare reports on ways in which they could save energy while continuing to use these "necessities" of modern life.

Extension for the mathematically inclined: Have students research the amount of energy used by their 10 "essential" appliances. They can refer to the following website for information on this subject: www.eere.energy.gov/consumer  

Of course, students should keep in mind that appliances and lighting consume only about 20 percent of all the energy used in the average household. Around 70 percent is used for space and water heating. Have the class research ways in which energy consumption in these areas could be reduced.

In addition, transportation–mostly in cars–is another big energy consumer. Have students monitor the use of the family car for a week. How many miles or kilometers did they travel? Could any of these trips have been done by bicycle or on foot or public transportation? How could students conserve the energy their family consumes on transportation?

Common Household Electric Appliances

  • Air conditioner
  • –window unit
  • –whole house
  • Answering machine
  • Can opener
  • Clothes dryer
  • Clothes washer
  • Coffee maker
  • Computer
  • –CPU
  • –Monitor
  • –Laptop
  • Dehumidifier
  • Dishwasher
  • Electric blanket
  • Electric toothbrush
  • Fan
  • –ceiling
  • –window
  • –whole house
  • Fax machine
  • Hair dryer
  • Heater (portable)
  • Iron
  • Leaf/snow blower
  • Microwave oven
  • Oven
  • Power saw
  • Radio/stereo
  • Range
  • Refrigerator
  • Television
  • Toaster
  • Toaster oven
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • VCR/DVD player

Last updated: 11-16-2011