From Grid to Home

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See the whole collection of reviewed teaching materials from CLEAN.
Marie Johnson - US Military Academy, Jonathan Hoffman - University of Wyoming, Lisa Gardiner - UCAR



This one-period classroom activity is designed to have students analyze energy use, cost, and source patterns from household to regional scales and relate these patterns to CO2 emissions. This idea was generated at the Teaching Energy Workshop.

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Grades 6 - 20
This activity can be adapted for various levels.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Understanding of Excel (or could do graphing by hand with younger students)
Basic math skills for calculations

How the activity is situated in the course

Stand alone exercise or as introduction to the Lifestyle Project


Content/concepts goals for this activity

  • Analyze energy source, usage, and cost by region of US
  • Compare household energy use to regional norms
  • Calculate household CO2 emissions based on electricity source
  • Discuss ways to reduce electrical footprint

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

  • Interpretation of tabular and graphical data
  • Ability to analyze energy use patterns

Other skills goals for this activity

  • Communication via writing and oral presentation

Description of the activity/assignment

Students use their household electric bills and available online data sets describing US regional electricity use, cost, and source to explore household energy use on personal, regional and national scales.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Students will create bar charts to summarize the regional data, participate in a discussion of how their electric bills compare to the regional average and the possible reasons for variation, and calculate their CO2 emissions and write about how to reduce their electric use.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Teaching materials and tips

Other Materials

Supporting references/URLs
Average Monthly Electric Bill by Sector, Census Division, and State 2007, from the Energy Information Administration.