Hands-on Activity: Household Energy Audit

Contributed by: Office of Educational Partnerships, Clarkson University, Potsdam, NY

Photo shows a woman standing by a front door where a blower door test is installed for a home energy audit.
Energy audits can save owners a lot of money and help conserve energy.
copyright
Copyright © Powerlines, Seattle, WA http://powerlines.seattle.gov/2011/03/01/february-really-was-cold-keep-warm-without-big-bills/

Summary

Students review the electrical appliances used at home and estimate the energy used for each. The results can help to show the energy hogs that could benefit from conservation or improved efficiency.

Engineering Connection

Evaluating energy consumption is the first step engineers take when trying to reduce energy consumption. This step is part of the "understand the problem" and "gather information" steps in the problem solving spiral (and the engineering design process).

Learning Objectives

After this activity, students should be able to:

  • Calculate energy use.
  • Analyze how changing personal behaviors and appliances choices affects the amount of energy they use.

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Educational Standards

Each TeachEngineering lesson or activity is correlated to one or more K-12 science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) educational standards.

All 100,000+ K-12 STEM standards covered in TeachEngineering are collected, maintained and packaged by the Achievement Standards Network (ASN), a project of D2L (www.achievementstandards.org).

In the ASN, standards are hierarchically structured: first by source; e.g., by state; within source by type; e.g., science or mathematics; within type by subtype, then by grade, etc.

  • Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment. (Grades 6 - 8) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • Fluently divide multi-digit numbers using the standard algorithm. (Grade 6) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • Fluently add, subtract, multiply, and divide multi-digit decimals using the standard algorithm for each operation. (Grade 6) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • Solve unit rate problems including those involving unit pricing and constant speed. (Grade 6) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • Display numerical data in plots on a number line, including dot plots, histograms, and box plots. (Grade 6) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • Use units as a way to understand problems and to guide the solution of multi-step problems; choose and interpret units consistently in formulas; choose and interpret the scale and the origin in graphs and data displays. (Grades 9 - 12) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • recognize and apply mathematics in contexts outside of mathematics (Grades Pre-K - 12) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • work flexibly with fractions, decimals, and percents to solve problems (Grades 6 - 8) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • understand and use ratios and proportions to represent quantitative relationships (Grades 6 - 8) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • use the associative and commutative properties of addition and multiplication and the distributive property of multiplication over addition to simplify computations with integers, fractions, and decimals (Grades 6 - 8) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • select appropriate methods and tools for computing with fractions and decimals from among mental computation, estimation, calculators, or computers, and paper and pencil, depending on the situation, and apply the selected methods (Grades 6 - 8) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • model and solve contextual problems using various representations, such as graphs, tables, and equations (Grades 6 - 8) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • understand both metric and customary systems of measurement (Grades 6 - 8) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • understand relationships among units and convert from one unit to another within the same system (Grades 6 - 8) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • select and apply techniques and tools to accurately find length, area, volume, and angle measures to appropriate levels of precision (Grades 6 - 8) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • use observations about differences between two or more samples to make conjectures about the populations from which the samples were taken (Grades 6 - 8) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • Mathematics is important in all aspects of scientific inquiry. (Grades 5 - 8) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • Energy is a property of many substances and is associated with heat, light, electricity, mechanical motion, sound, nuclei, and the nature of a chemical. Energy is transferred in many ways. (Grades 5 - 8) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • Electrical circuits provide a means of transferring electrical energy when heat, light, sound, and chemical changes are produced. (Grades 5 - 8) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • Science influences society through its knowledge and world view. Scientific knowledge and the procedures used by scientists influence the way many individuals in society think about themselves, others, and the environment. The effect of science on society is neither entirely beneficial nor entirely detrimental. (Grades 5 - 8) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • Technology influences society through its products and processes. Technology influences the quality of life and the ways people act and interact. Technological changes are often accompanied by social, political, and economic changes that can be beneficial or detrimental to individuals and to society. Social needs, attitudes, and values influence the direction of technological development. (Grades 5 - 8) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • Fluently divide multi-digit numbers using the standard algorithm. (Grade 6) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • Fluently add, subtract, multiply, and divide multi-digit decimals using the standard algorithm for each operation. (Grade 6) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • Display numerical data in plots on a number line, including dot plots, histograms, and box plots. (Grade 6) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • Solve unit rate problems including those involving unit pricing and constant speed. (Grade 6) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
  • Use units as a way to understand problems and to guide the solution of multi-step problems; choose and interpret units consistently in formulas; choose and interpret the scale and the origin in graphs and data displays. (Grades 9 - 12) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment?
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Materials List

  • Student Worksheet, one per student
  • (optional) access to computer and personal energy meter.xls spreadsheet
  • calculator
  • watt meter (loan to students, as appropriate)

Introduction/Motivation

(See materials included in watt meter activity. The intro to this activity is scheduled for the same day. Students get started on this as homework and then work on calculations and discussion questions in class the following day.)

Procedure

With the students:

  1. At the completion of the watt meter activity, hand out the student worksheet and explain the homework portion of the home energy audit to them in class. Explain that they can focus on one room, but they should be thorough in defining all electrical appliances in that room.
  2. Next day: Make sure that students brought in some information about their electric energy use. Work throughout the class period (on paper or on an Excel spreadsheet) to estimate the daily energy use for each appliance and answer discussion questions.
  3. Review findings with the class. Any surprises? What consumes the most energy in some households? Least? How important is leaking energy in your house? Any ideas for how they might use this information relative to their unit project?

Attachments

Assessment

Collect completed worksheet and discussion questions for review.

Other Related Information

This activity was originally published by the Clarkson University K-12 Project Based Learning Partnership Program and may be accessed at http://www.clarkson.edu/highschool/k12/project/energysystems.html.

Contributors

Jan DeWaters, Susan Powers, and a number of Clarkson and St. Lawrence University students in the K-12 Project Based Learning Partnership Program

Copyright

© 2013 by Regents of the University of Colorado; original © 2008 Clarkson University

Supporting Program

Office of Educational Partnerships, Clarkson University, Potsdam, NY

Acknowledgements

This activity was developed under National Science Foundation grant nos. DUE 0428127 and DGE 0338216. However, these contents do not necessarily represent the policies of the National Science Foundation, and you should not assume endorsement by the federal government.

Last modified: May 10, 2017

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