What is Electricity?
Electricity is one of the most powerful forces in our lives. As a matter of fact, it can even kill you. The most vital part of electricity is called electric energy. This is what we commonly think of when we hear the word electricity. “Electricity” reminds us of anything that we plug into an electrical outlet in order to make it work, such as lights, refrigerators, video games, microwaves, and computers. Scientists discovered ways to produce electric energy in large amounts in order to make heat, light and motion. These discoveries have improved our lives greatly and
for many of us it would be difficult to picture what life would be like without electricity.
What Are Some of the Problems With
Electricity and Fossil Fuels?
One of the most common ways to produce electricity
is through the burning of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels include coal, oil, and
natural gas. When fossil fuels are burned, they release carbon
dioxide into the atmosphere which leads to acid rain and global warming.
These are big problems for our environment.
Another concern is that we will eventually run out of fossil
fuels. Fossil fuels are non-renewable sources of
energy because it takes millions of years to create them. That's why it's
so important that we start to develop better ways to use renewable
sources of energy such as wind and water power to create
How Does Electricity Work?
Everything in the world, including air, humans, water, etc. is made up of atoms, or tiny invisible particles. Protons and neutrons join together to form the nucleus or center of the atom. Electrons, which are even smaller, spin around the nucleus of the atom. When electrons move from one atom to another, they form electricity.
All right, but how do these protons and neutrons help make my computer work at home? In today’s world, huge generators at power plants make electricity by using coal, natural gas, uranium, water, or wind. Electric current travels through transformers which push the power a long distance through transmission lines that run across countries. The current
often goes through a substation and then travels on smaller power lines or along underground cables through your neighborhood. A service drop is a pole that connects the power line to your house. The current runs through a meter that adds up how much electricity your family uses. Then the electricity goes into a service panel in your basement or garage. Finally, the electrical current moves through the wires in the wall of your house to all of the outlets and switches in your house. Now you know why your computer will work when you turn it on.
Why Do We Need to Conserve Electricity?
Every year, many industrialized countries around the world use more energy than they did the year before. Some experts say that the total amount of energy Americans use doubles every twenty years.
One of the biggest problems is that a lot of this energy is wasted.
There are many reasons why we need to conserve, or use less, electricity. First of all, if we conserve electricity, we save money because electricity costs money. If you conserve electricity every single day, you can save lots and lots of money over time. You can spend this money on other things that you need and want. Another reason why we need to conserve electricity is because conserving electricity means that we are using less of the earth’s non-renewable resources. Non-renewable resources are gone forever once we use them up. Examples are oil, natural gas, uranium, and coal
which are used to create electricity. Therefore, wasting electricity is not good for the environment.
Yet another reason that we need to conserve energy is to make up for some of the energy that is wasted due to the fact that a lot of people do not do enough reducing, reusing, and recycling of their garbage. Companies
use electricity to produce lots of unnecessary items since many consumers do not use and reuse things as much as they should. Making these products wastes a lot of energy and electricity.
Finally, we need to conserve electricity today in order to help future generations. Energy will be an even bigger problem in the future than it is today. So if kids start learning to use less electricity and to use it wisely today, they will be helping themselves in the future.
Facts About Electricity and Energy
- Thomas Edison owned the first power plant ever! The power plant opened in New York City in 1882.
- Today one power plant can make enough electricity for 188,000 homes to use.
- Thomas Edison invented the first long-lasting light bulb.
- Benjamin Franklin showed us that lightning is a form of electricity.
- In the United States, the most common way to make electricity is by burning coal.
- The strength of an electric current is measured in volts.
- The higher the voltage number, the more force there is pushing the electric current through the wire.
- The voltage of a flash light battery is 1.5 volts.
- Just one spark of static electricity can equal 3,000 volts.
- A lightning bolt can measure up to 3,000,000 volts and it occurs in just a fraction of a second.
- Did you know that there is a thick coat of dust on a light bulb? The dust can block out about half of the light that could be coming from the light bulb.
- When you open your refrigerator, 30% of the cold air gets out.
- Every year all around America, home refrigerators use the amount of energy that is produced by 25 big power plants.
- One amazing fact about energy is that an open crack as tiny as 1/16 of an inch around a window can let in the same amount of cold air as if the window was open 3 inches!
- Speaking of cracks in houses, over $13 billion worth of wasted energy leaks out of homes through these cracks and tiny holes every single year. That would equal at least $150 per family.
People in the United States, Europe, and Asia all use a huge
amount of energy. Every year the worldwide need for electric energy
is growing. Did you know that the United States uses a fourth of the
world’s energy, yet the US only has less than 5% of the population
of the whole world? In fact, the United States consumes almost
a million dollars of energy each and every minute of every day of
the year! An average American uses 6 times more energy than the world average.
Most electric energy is made in power plants that burn fossil
fuels. Smaller amounts of electric energy comes from nuclear
and hydroelectric (water power) plants. Very little is made from
renewable sources of energy such as solar cells and windmills.
However, since we will eventually run out of fossil fuels and
because the burning of fossil fuels harms the environment, many
scientists and power companies are working to improve these
alternative sources of electric energy. Encourage your family
and local power company to start developing and using solar,
geothermal, wind, and tidal energy.
|Global Warming| |Too Much Trash| |Water Pollution & Conservation| |Deforestation| |Electricity & Fossil Fuels| |Solar Energy| |Rainwater Harvesting| |Biofuels| |Tidal Power| |Wind Power| |Water Power|
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