Understanding Energy Use, Taking Steps to Reduce Energy Use (Intermediate/Advanced ESOL level)

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1 Understanding Energy Use, Taking Steps to Reduce Energy Use (Intermediate/Advanced ESOL level) Overview of Lesson This is a three-part lesson that covers: 1. energy use and common household appliances, 2. electricity generation and transmission and demystifies electric utility bills, and, 3. simple energy reduction steps that students can take to reduce energy usage in their homes. The lessons cover basic vocabulary and could fit into established grammar lessons involving modals, comparisons and conditionals for low to high language learners. This activity also has suggestions for lesson expansion. Goals of this lesson: o create awareness of household energy use and ways to reduce energy usage (and costs) o introduce energy efficiency vocabulary o foster an understanding of electricity generation and supply and conservation o support students to take action for more energy efficient households Part One Home Energy Use Awareness Connecting with Learners Prior Knowledge: Before the lesson, give students pre-activity homework. Pre-Activity Homework: Students should identify the energy users in their own homes and apartments. They should bring a list of the different appliances that are in their home and provide an indication of how much energy these appliances use (e.g. TV is on all day, dishwasher only runs twice per week, etc.). Lesson: Using pictures of appliances students and teacher discuss and identify things that use energy in and around the house, including appliances and household heating. (See the following pages at the end of this document for pictures of household energy users: Pictures of Energy Users Pictures of Energy Users in the Bathroom Pictures of Energy Users in the Kitchen Pictures of Energy Users in the Bedroom Discussion about the different kinds of energy used to power appliances and heat homes, as well as discussion about the relationship between time on and amount of energy used. 1

2 Attitude Exploring Learners Interpretations of Information: Through the exercise, students become aware of choices that can be made and attitudes about those choices: as simple as changing a light bulb or as complicated as replacing or turning off appliances and changing to different heating systems. Use the Energy Use Quiz (follows Part One of lesson) and the information from the local utility company website on energy efficiency at home (many utility company sites have information specific to appliance use) to spur specific discussion about home appliance energy use. See following page for information from the Mass Electric Company website: 2

3 Energy Use Quiz Teachers can pick and choose, cut and paste the questions that work best for their level grammar or math focus. (There are many places where teachers can come up with their own questions with up-to-date information to keep it current. ) Read and choose the correct answer to the question. 1. You are hungry and want to bake a potato. What uses less energy? A. An electric oven B. A microwave 2. How much trash does each American throw out a year A. More than 1,500 pounds B. Less than 1,000 pounds 3. How much energy does a CFL light bulb use compared to an old light bulb A. 75% less B. 20 % less 4. Is it best to keep your freezer... A as full as possible B as empty as possible 5. The most energy efficient temperature for your hot water heater is A. 140 B What uses more energy? A. A TV turned on for four hours B. A TV turned off the rest of the day? 7. Appliances, including heating and cooling equipment and water heaters consume how much energy in homes. A 90% B 50% 8. When an appliance is turned off, there is no electricity used. A. True B. False 3

4 Answers to Energy Use Quiz 1. B A microwave uses 1/3 of the energy of an electric oven 2. A Each American throws out $1,645 pounds of trash a year. That s about 4 pounds a day. Source Hands on English 3. A. The ENERGY STAR bulb uses about 75% less energy than regular bulbs and last up to 10 times longer. You could save about $30.00 or more in electricity costs over each bulb s lifetime. Source: 4. A. A full freezer will perform better than a nearly empty freezer. If your freezer isn t full, fill plastic containers with water and freeze them. Source: Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings 5. B. Setting your water heater to 120 can save up to 10$ in water-heating costs compared to a 140 degree setting. Source: 6. B A TV turned on for 4 hours could use less electricity than turned off the rest of the day 7. A Heating and cooling for use 56% of energy consumed in a household. Source: 8. B Many electrical appliances are on stand-by ready to be powered by a remote control. 4

5 Electric Bills Energy Transmission Part Two Electric Bills and Energy Transmission Awareness Connecting with Learners Prior Knowledge: Together students and teacher read the Where does electricity come from? article. Students and teacher discuss how electricity gets to their home. Where does Electricity Come From? Reading adapted from Power Generation, Transmission, and Distribution Source: Energy Information Administration Electricity comes to your home through a network of transmission and distribution lines, which we call the grid. Utility companies build power plants to generate electricity. They also buy electricity from other sources. Some utilities generate all the electricity they sell. Some residential, industrial, and commercial users produce electricity themselves and sell extra back to the utility. There are many types of power plants that produce electricity. These include plants that use fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, or an oil product) or nuclear energy to produce electricity. These are non-renewable sources. Renewable power includes: water or hydroelectric, biomass, waste to energy, geothermal, pumped storage, wind and solar energy. The price of electricity is different around the country. It depends on the cost and availability of fuel used for power and the transmission necessary to deliver the power to you. In most areas, the cost to generate electricity changes daily and monthly, depending on demand. Your electric bill is a combination of what it costs to get and deliver the power. Here are some possible charges. (You will have to check what applies in your area and to your electric supplier.) 5

6 Delivery services o Customer charge reading your meter, billing and customer service o Distribution charge the cost of delivering the electricity to your home or business o Transmission charge the cost of transmitting electricity from generators to your home o Energy conservation a fee that is used to pay for energy efficiency programs for customers o Renewable energy a fee that goes into a public fund to help promote renewable energy Supplier Services o Generation charge this charge is for the actual amount of electricity you use. It is a charge per kilowatt hour of electricity used. (See the following pdf file for pictures of energy sources: Pictures of Energy Sources.) Attitude Exploring Learners Interpretations of Information: Students bring a copy of their most recent electric utility bill. In small groups, students talk about how well they understand the bill. Do they know how much electricity they are buying? Do they know what the different parts of the bill are about? Together, the class reviews the utility company information about understanding your bill. In small groups, students help each other to answer the following questions: o How much electricity did you purchase last month? o What is your billing period? o How does that compare with what you bought the month before? o How much is the transmission charge? o Where on the bill can you find information about the energy efficiency and renewable energy charges? (See next page for information from Western Mass Electric Company or 6

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8 ZONE 1 (top) Your name, account number and statement date. ZONE 2 (left side) Company contact information, supplier information (if applicable), usage or demand charts, important messages. Information could be continued on side 2. Energy Profile chart: Shows comparisons of your monthly electricity use. Demand Profile chart: Shows your maximum kilowatt of demand per month. Generation Rate chart: Shows comparison of your monthly generation rate. ZONE 3 Account summary: previous charges, new charges and total amount now due. ZONE 4A Service detail: service location and reference number, billing period, meter readings. Information could be continued on side 2. Service Location: Address to which electricity was delivered. Billing Period: Meter readings: Amount of electricity consumed. ZONE 4B Delivery Services Charges Detail Transmission Charge: this federally-mandated charge covers the cost of transporting the electricity over the high-voltage (transmission) lines from the generation plant to WMECO so that we can deliver it directly to you. The transmission charge is collected by WMECO and passed on to transmission providers. Customer Charge: this fixed monthly charge covers WMECO s basic costs for billing, metering and meter reading, WMECO s 24-hour customer service center, as well as making service available to customers, such as installing and maintaining meters, utility poles, power lines and equipment. Energy Charge: WMECO s charge for delivering the electricity to you across our poles and wires and includes maintenance and operations of the distribution system, power restoration and service. Residential Assistance Adjustment Clause: This charge recovers costs for providing discounted residential rates for qualified low-income WMECO customers. This charge also recovers costs related to the operation of WMECO s NUStart program, which assists low-income/fixed income customers in maintaining year-round electric service. Pension and Post-retirement Benefits Other than Pension (PBOP) Adjustment Mechanism (PPAM): Recovers costs for providing current WMECO employees with pension benefits and retirement health care benefits. Default Service Cost Adjustment Factor: This bill component tracks the recovery of WMECO s administrative costs to obtain energy for Default/Basic Service customers. It also reflects a charge or credit when there is a difference in what customers have paid for Default Service (also known as Basic Service) energy and what the supplier has charged WMECO for that energy during the prior year. Transition Charge: this charge covers WMECO s past investment costs, such as those incurred from the mandated sale of WMECO s generation plants as a result of restructuring. This charge will decrease over time as these costs are paid. Energy Conservation Charge: this charge is collected to promote energy efficiency and is returned back to the customer through energy-efficiency measures, programs, services, incentives and rebates. 8

9 Renewable Energy Charge: this charge funds the development of new energy sources, such as wind, solar and water power, to reduce our reliance on traditional energy sources like coal and nuclear fuels. Supplier Services: The amount your supplier charges for making the electricity you use. WMECO purchases Basic Service through a competitive bid process for those that have not chosen a supplier. This price is the lowest available price on the competitive marketplace at the time of the bids and is passed onto the customer. WMECO then pays the supplier on your behalf. If you have chosen a competitive supplier, you will see that charge here. ZONE 4C Capital Projects Scheduling List: Reconciles and recovers costs of specific distribution system inspections, repairs and improvements approved by the DPU. ZONE 5 Remittance stub with total amount now due. Please note the new payment address. Detach at the perforation and return the remittance stub with your payment. ZONE 6 (not shown) Account messages, which might appear on the front or back of the bill. ZONE 7 (back) Important phone numbers, billing and payment options, calculation and check processing information. 9

10 Part Three Do It Yourself Simple Home Energy Audit Awareness Connecting with Learners Prior Knowledge: Lesson: Through pictures and discussion, identify simple things in and around the house that could be looked at as energy users/wasters. This might include cell phone chargers, lights left on, rooms too warm in the winter or too cool in the summer, standing with the refrigerator door open, etc. Generate a list. Attitude Exploring Learners Interpretations of Information: Lesson: Students and teacher read the following text and discuss what uses energy in their homes and how to reduce energy usage. Home Energy Conservation Information Different appliances in your home use different amounts of energy. Learn how to reduce energy usage and save money. Televisions, remote controls and appliance chargers: A TV with a remote could use more energy during the 20 hours it is turned off than it does while you are watching it for 4 hours in the evening. Many electronics are on standby and use energy waiting for you to turn them on. It s called vampire energy. They use this energy 24 hours a day. Other vampire users are your VCR, DVD, computer, printer, microwave, coffee machine, washer dryer, electric clock and more. The US Department of Energy says vampire energy adds 20% each month to your energy bill. Possible Actions Put electronics on a power strip so you can shut them off when you are not using them. Unplug appliances when not in use If you are going to buy a new appliance, look for the blue ENERGYSTAR label. Light bulbs: ENERGYSTAR light bulbs use about 75 percent less energy than standard bulbs and last up to 10 times longer. They also produce less heat so are safer to operate. Energy for lighting is about 10% of your electric bill. Possible Actions Replace old light bulbs with ENERGYSTAR light bulbs Use bulbs with less watts Get solar lights for outside 10

11 Air leaks: Air coming in or going out of your house can make a big difference on your heating bill. It can be responsible for up to 1/3 of the heating costs. It s important to look around and feel around for any leaks and stop those leaks. You can feel the air if you put water on your hand. You can also use some incense and see if the smoke moves. Possible Actions Caulk Insulate Put plastic over windows Use curtains or shades during the day in the summer at night in the winter Heating system: An estimated 40% of home energy use is for heating. If your heat system is not working well, as much as 30 to 50% can be wasted. Possible Actions Put in a thermostat that you can time control Call the company (oil, gas) for a system inspection Turn down the thermostat 10 degrees at night or when you are not at home Keep home at or below 68 degrees Hot water heater: Heating water for washing clothes or bathing is as much as 15 to 30% of your house energy use. Possible Actions Check your hot water temperature. It should be between 120 and 130 degrees F. You can use a meat or candy thermometer. Insulate pipes Wash clothes with cold water Use low flow faucets and showerheads Consider solar hot water Your electric utility bill: Your electric bill has important information about your energy use. It can tell you if you are using more or less electricity than you did at this time last year and it can show you how much you have used every month. Possible Actions Compare this month with the same month last year Compare every month. What do you notice? 11

12 Action Learners Taking Action/Integrating Information: Learners work in pairs to do the Do It Yourself Home Energy Audit Checklist (which follows lesson plan). Group discusses the checklist. Together learners and teacher write action steps for each of the items on the checklist. Students practice writing and vocabulary. Each student agrees to do at least one of the action steps and to report back to the group. At the time of reporting back, students describe the step they took, why they took the step and how it has saved energy. Expandable Activities This basic activity is expandable in a number of ways. Below is a list of suggestions. o Guest speaker about home energy audits. o Have the class members schedule their own home energy audit. o Talk about windows, curtains, insulation, caulking. o Use on line or other calculators (Kill-a-watt meter) to discover energy/money use and savings. o Do the test of a TV turned on and turned off with the Kill-a-Watt meter. o Visit a low energy use home. o Have the class come up with a series of saving energy tips and then use the grammar to talk about next steps with the information or just come up with the tips. o Use as a basis for math lessons. o Have students prepare reports on various types of renewable and non-renewable power generation. o Have the class compare electric bills with each other and personally from this month last year to this year. Track changes. o Have one student schedule an audit and the whole class go to it. 12

13 Do It Yourself Home Energy Audit Checklist Check for leaks. (windows, doors, walls, ceiling, floors, fireplace) Find out how old and efficient your heating system is Check your hot water temperature Check for vampire energy users Use power strips for electronics Replace light bulbs Make sure the thermostat is at the correct temperature Make sure the hot water heater is at the correct temperature 13

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