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 © Powerlines, Seattle, WA http://powerlines.seattle.gov/2011/03/01/february-really-was-cold-keep-warm-without-big-bills/


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).

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.

Suggest an alignment not listed above

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.

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)


(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.)


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?



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.


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


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

Supporting Program

Office of Educational Partnerships, Clarkson University, Potsdam, NY


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.