Energy Audit Part 2: Personal Energy Use
Lesson 11 of 13
Objective: SWBAT determine how much energy they use around their home and evalatue their consumption of electricity.
This lesson can serve as a continuation of two other lessons in this unit, Energy Audit 1 and Lights Out, or it can work as a stand alone lesson. Students use a formatted spreadsheets to approximate the number of hours of usage of devices and appliances in their household that use electricity.
The energy audit comes from a larger energy unit from Lehigh University. I have included a link to their curriculum page should you be interested in using other resources they have made publicly available. In the past I have taught some of these lessons and can vouch for several of them.
- Student energy audit worksheet
- Student audit directions
- computers with Internet access
Science Practices included in this lesson:
- Students analyze data and use mathematical and computational thinking when estimating their electricity use.
- Students make claims based on evidence.
Share the following with the class:
"As are learning, we have their work cut out for us in the future creating enough energy to keep us going. This lesson on energy will be an exercise in understanding how much energy you use. Once you are able to determine energy use, you will engineer a solution to achieve energy savings for your lifestyle and present your findings to the class!"
"Why do you think it is important to understand your energy consumption patterns?"
Elicit some responses before continuing on to the next part of the lesson.
A note here about my use of the term engineer. If you have not discussed with your students differences between science and engineering you may want to explain that engineering involves finding solutions to problems. Engineering doesn't necessarily mean the construction of a physical object. There are many fields of engineering that deal with finding solutions to systemic problems within systems. In that regard, students will be "engineering a solution" to change energy habits within their home that ultimately result in saving money and resources.
Directions for completing the energy audit can be found here.
In this activity, students calculate their personal and household energy consumption using a pre-formatted spreadsheet. They will use this data to analyze the patterns of energy consumed in their home. The audit is divided into several different categories. Within each category there are different line items for them to consider.
I find it helpful to project an image of the spreadsheet and walk students through filling out the first few lines. Make sure that each child has a computer with Internet access with the spreadsheet downloaded to that computer and the file opened up in an appropriate spreadsheet application such as Google Sheets, Excel, or Numbers.
Students only need to fill in two columns. The number of hours the device is used and the number of devices in the home. The rest of the calculations are done automatically. This data is then transferred into the student worksheet. The only columns they pay attention to are kW/yr, BTU/yr, and cost per year for each category as well as the totals of all categories combined.
They analyze this data to describe ways that they can reduce their personal energy and household energy use.
After students complete their audit, have them turn and talk to a neighbor about what surprised them as well as what questions they have after analyzing their data. Bring the class back together and ask for students to explain what they found out about their electricity use, what questions they have as a result of completing the audit, as well as what ideas they have for potentially reducing their electric use.
You may ask your students what they think the results would be if they were to calculate the electrical use of all members of the household. If you complete the energy audit activity, where students analyze their utility bills, relate this data back to that activity to see if there is a correlation connection that can be made. Keep in mind that the formatted calculation values on the spreadsheet may not align perfectly with the current energy bills students have brought from home, so you may need to speak about these in generalities.
My ultimate goal was to have students complete these activities so they think about their personal and household energy use/dependency. Ultimately it is up to them to make the choices in their lifestyle to conserve more energy.
In the video below, one of my students reflects on the science practice of obtaining and communicating information.