Energy Use

cover for gss book Energy Use

ENERGY USE is in the GSS theme 4, Underlying Causes and Possible Solutions. See Overview.


ChaptersInvestigationsStay Current
1. How People Use Energy1.1. Recent HistoryChapter 1
2. Energy Basics2.1. Create Electricity
2.2. Electric Motor
2.3. Transformations
Chapter 2
3. Fossil Fuels3.1. Energy UnitsChapter 3
4. Field Trip to a Power Plant4.1. Home Heating
4.2. Future Power
Chapter 4
5. America Plugged In5.1. Energy and Power
5.2. Fuses & Circuit Breakers
Chapter 5
6. Energy in Society6.1. Electric Metering
6.2. What Are We Paying For?
6.3. Power Failure
Chapter 6
7. Energy for Lighting7.1. Comparing Light Sources
7.2. Which is Most Cost-Effective?
Chapter 7
8. Heating & Cooling8.1. Thermos Bottle
8.2. Compute R-Value
8.3 Refrigerators
8.4 Exploring a Refrigerator
Chapter 8
9. Energy for Transportation9.1. Car Energy Transformations
9.2. Better Batteries
Chapter 9
10. Our Energy Future10.1 Energy from the Sun
10.2 Payback Time
10.3 Your Vote on Energy Measures
10.4 Carbon Footprint Calculators
10.5 Climate/Renewable Energy
10.6 Solar Cooking
Chapter 10


Energy Use begins by inviting students to take an inventory of the ways that they use electricity. By “following the wires” back to a power plant, and from there to a grid of all power plants in the country, your students will begin to grasp the vast infrarstructure that supports our way of life. Through laboratory experiments they will learn the basic principles on which electrical devices work; and through a brief history, they will learn how our national energy policy came to be. They will also learn about the huge amounts of Earth materials that are used for transportation, home heating, and industry on a daily basis, and the small fraction of that energy that is actually put to use. In the last portion of the unit your students will conduct simple experiments in which they discover that conservation will allow us to maintain our current levels of energy usage while saving billions of dollars and reducing our impact on the environment. They will also explore new technologies for satisfying the energy needs of a growing human population while keeping the impact of energy use to a minimum.

Resources for Energy Use

National Renewable Energy Laboratory – – also The Solutions Project – 
…specific plans, by locale, for energy mixes that are 100% renewable energy.

Alternative Fuels


Electric Vehicles- Electric Bikes

Fuel Cells


  • November 1989. Cold Fusion Research. A Report of the Energy Research Advisory Board to the United States by Department of Energy Washington, DC 20585 — DOE/S-0073 DE90 005611, Internet Edition Prepared by National Capital Area Skeptics (NCAS) District of Columbia – Maryland – Virginia (USA)
  • Cold Fusion–LENR– — a library of papers on LENR, Low Energy Nuclear Reactions, also known as Cold Fusion. (CANR, Chemically Assisted Nuclear Reactions, is another term for this phenomenon.) It features a library of more than 280 original scientific papers in Acrobat format, reprinted with permission from the authors and publishers. [Note: this site FAVORS the research on LENR, whereas many scientists scoff at cold fusion as bunk.] For a different view, see article.
  • General Atomics Fusion Educational Outreach

Green Energy


Socially Responsible Investing

  • December 2004. GREENTIPS – Socially Responsible Investing – Many people do their part for the environment by driving a fuel-efficient car, buying organic foods, or using energy-efficient appliances. You can also promote environmental values through socially responsible investing (SRI), also known as “green” investing. SRI gives corporations an incentive to improve their environmental stewardship and can also provide investors with a more secure financial future-a “double bottom line.”

Solar Energy

  • American Solar Energy Society (ASES) is a national organization dedicated to advancing the use of solar energy for the benefit of U.S. citizens and the global environment.
  • Companies: Solar and Solar-Related
  • Cookers and ovens (solar) — Solar Cookers International (SCI) – Establishes programs in countries around the world to teach people to make and use solar ovens and cookers. Reduces deforestation and saves time for cultures that normally would gather wood for cooking fires. Reduces carbon dioxide (greenhouse gas) emission in cultures that normally use natural gas or electricity for cooking. See SCI Newsletters
  • Kyoto USA – assists California school districts reduce their energy consumption and to install renewable energy systems. Also promotes Community Choice Aggregation programs that allow local governments to procure electricity on behalf of businesses and residents.
  • National Council for Solar Growth –
  • Northern California Solar Energy Association
  • Rising Sun Energy Center – Founded in 1994 as a renewable energy education center, provides green training, employment, and residential efficiency evaluations. Headquartered in Berkeley, serves Northern California.
  • – Texas-based organization that provides lots of information on solar energy, green energy, and inexpensive energy.
  • Solar Catalyst Group
  • Solar Living Institute conducts Sustainable Living Workshops, runs the Solar Living Center in Hopland, California, and SolFest, an annual weekend educational celebration. Also has online newsletter at
  • Solar Cells
    • March 29, 2002 (By Reuters) WASHINGTON. Cheap, plastic solar cells that can be painted onto just about any surface could provide power for a range of portable and even wearable electronic devices, scientists said Thursday. A team at the University of California Berkeley said they had come up with a first generation of plastic solar cells, which could someday replace the bulky and expensive silicon-based cells used widely now. “Our efficiency is not good enough yet by about a factor of 10, but this technology has the potential to do a lot better,” Paul Alivisatos, a professor of chemistry who led the study…
  • Solar Schoolhouse –
  • Solar Suitcases –  – provide solar energy systems (medical lighting, mobile communication and essential medical devices) to health facilities in areas without reliable electricity. A basic Solar Suitcase has solar panels, LFP battery, two medical LED lights, charge controller, mounting hardware, and standard accessories (costs $1705 with bulk discounts available for NGOs).