What is Energy?
Energy gives us the ability to do things such as climb a mountain, play soccer, and even think. And there are many types of energy--some is stored in our muscles and brain cells, some is used to move around and play, while other types of energy are used to light a street lamp, heat or cool our homes, cook our food, and power buses, planes and cars.
Energy causes movement. Every time you see something move, energy is being used. A leaf moving in the wind, a pot of boiling water, and a school bus traveling to school are all evidence of energy being used.
You know that energy exists because you can see or feel what it does. Energy moves cars, makes machines run, heats ovens, and lights our classrooms.
One form of energy can be changed into another form. When gasoline is burned in a school bus engine, the energy stored in gasoline is changed into heat energy. When we stand in the sun, light energy is changed into heat. When you turn on a flashlight, chemical energy stored in the battery is changed into light and heat.
To find energy, look for motion, heat, light, sound, chemical reactions, or electricity.
While there are two types of energy, renewable and nonrenewable, most of the energy we use comes from burning nonrenewable fuels--coal, petroleum or oil, or natural gas. These supply the majority of our energy needs because we have designed ways to transform their energy on a large scale to meet consumer needs. Regardless of the energy source, the energy contained in them is changed into a more useful form - electricity.
Nonrenewable energy comes from things that will run out one day such as oil, coal, and natural gas, which are known as fossil fuels.
Renewable energy comes from things that won’t run out such as wind, water, and sunlight. They are things that we can reuse over and over again and these methods of producing energy are a lot cleaner and better for our environment than nonrenewable ones.
Solar Energy is power from the heat of the sun, the most plentiful source of energy known to humankind. Step outside on a hot, sunny day, and you'll experience the power of the sun's heat and the light. That's solar energy.
You can use solar energy to:
-Heat your home through passive solar design or an active solar heating system
-Generate your own electricity
-Heat water in your home or swimming pool
-Light your home both indoors and outdoors
-Dry your clothes. Use a clothesline to reduce the energy consumed by your clothes dryer.
When the sun is shining, solar cells produce electricity. The energy from sunlight can be in batteries to use on cloudy days. Energy from the sun can be used directly – to provide heat for living space and water, or stored in solar panels such as on calculators, watches, and rooftops.
Wind Energy produces electricity by turning blades on a wind turbine, or a windmill. Wing energy is useful in places with a lot of strong winds. Wind energy can be stored in batteries for later use and is safe because it does not produce waste.
Using the wind to create electricity has been around for a long time. You've probably seen windmills on farms. When the wind turns the blades of a windmill, it spins a turbine inside a small generator to produce electricity, just like a bog coal power plant.
A wind farm might have only two or three wind mills, or it could have as many as 150 spread across a big field. One of the largest wind farms in the U.S. is in Altamont Pass, California. It has more than 900 wind turbines!
How a Wind Turbine Works:
A wind turbine works the opposite of a fan. Instead of using electricity to make wind, a turbine used wind to make electricity. The wind turns the blades, which spin a shaft, which connects to a generator and makes electricity. The electricity is sent through transmission and distribution lines to a substation, then on to homes, businesses and schools.
Did You Know?
∗Enough clean, renewable solar energy falls from the sky in one day to power the world for 27 years.
∗ Solar Energy is the most plentiful source of energy known to humankind.
∗Solar is the Latin word for “sun.”
∗People have used the sun as a heat source for thousands of years. Families in ancient Greece built their homes to get the most sunlight during the cold winter months.
* Wind farms are built in flat, open areas where the wind blows at least 14 miles per hour.
* Iowa currently has more than 600 wind turbines, producing enough electricity to power 140,000 homes.
*The largest wind turbine in the world, located in Hawaii, stands 20 stories tall and has blades the length of a football field!
*Some schools in the Midwest have their own wind farms!
50 Simple Things You Can Do To Save the Earth by John Javna, Sophie Javna, and Jesse Javna
Why Do We Need To Save Energy?
Every year, we use more energy than we did the year before.
All of that energy adds up, and much of it is wasted by using too much or not using it wisely.
Energy isn’t free. The grown-ups in your house pay for the all the electricity you use. So wasting energy is the same as wasting money – and we know that’s not a good idea!
Wasting energy isn’t good for the environment either. Most of the energy sources we depend on, like coal and natural gas, can’t be replaced – once we use them up, they’re gone forever. Another problem is that most forms of energy can cause pollution that damages the environment.
How You Can Save Energy!
It might seem like kids can’t do much to help. But every time you turn off a light bulb or close the refrigerator door, you’re saving energy.
There are lots of easy ways to save energy at home – and all those energy-savers add up to a big impact on the environment.
Save Energy By:
*Making sure all lights and appliances are off when not in use.
*Keeping doors and windows shut when heating or cooling the house/car.
*Remind grown-ups to turn the heat down in the winter, but energy-smart light bulbs and use appliances the right way.
*Get Outside! Outside activities are fun and take less energy.
Check Out These Fun Energy Websites and Games!
Find Out How Big Your Ecological Footprint is With Bobbie Bigfoot!
Be an Energy Star with Energy Star Kids!
Kids Saving Energy
Become an Energy Hog Buster!
Alliant Energy Kids
Energy Kids Page
Have some questions about renewable energy? Click Here!