National Teacher Enhancement Project

Middle School Home Energy Audit


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Teacher Basics:

Time Frame: It will take approximately 7 - 12 clock hours to complete the set of lessons. Classroom and computer usage will depend on the length of class period. The home energy audit will fit into this schedule. Additional time may be required for extension activities.

Student Groups: Depending on past classroom practices, students may do the lessons as individuals or placed in small research groups.

Math Integration: Math is an extremely important component of these lessons. Students should have access to a calculator. If the science teacher is teamed with a math teacher, he/she should use these lessons as a teaming activity (interdisciplinary). The teacher should take time to review the lessons and determine "difficulty spots" for his/her class.

Student Pages: To streamline class work, you may want to print out some of these pages in advance. Note: These pages were developed using a Mac and Netscape with Times 12 font. The Power Worksheet prints as one page. If you are using PC or Internet Explorer, you may have to fiddle either with your default font or the Scale on the Page Setup.

Other Lesson Plans: If you would like to look for other energy-related lesson plans, the sites below have links to general science and math lesson plans.

Alliance to Save Energy (

Texas State Energy Conservation Office (

Columbia Education Center (

Lesson Information and Tools:

1. Pre-Assessment

Printable Assessment

Answer Key

2. Energy


Printable Worksheet

3. Power

Lighting Dilemma Experiment

Lighting Dilemma Data Sheet

Teacher Info: Lighting Dilemma


Printable Worksheet

4. Energy Production


Printable Worksheet

5. Energy Efficiency


Printable Worksheet

Energy Efficiency Guidelines

Energy Use of Home Appliances

6. Energy Measurement

Meter Reading

Utility Bill Reading

Printable Worksheet

7. Home Energy Audit


Printable Data Table

Project Rubric


Energy and Power:

Give students direct experience with different demands for power and resultant differences in work. The Lighting Dilemma Lab utilizes light bulbs of different types and power ratings.

Teacher Information: Lighting Dilemma

Lighting Dilemma Laboratory Experiment:

Use information from the library to compare the advantages and disadvantages of using coal, oil, and natural gas (cost, availability, environmental problems, etc.)

Invite a guest speaker to discuss current topics relating to fossil fuels: mine safety, environmental problems, toxic waste, etc.

Examine ways of transforming fossil fuels to obtain their energy. Do an experiment to obtain methane from coal.

Watch a demonstration of the heating of a water-ice mixture that continues past the time when the water boils. As you observe the demonstration, record heating intervals and temperature readings. Display the data on a graph. Read about latent heat and relate that phrase to the graphic display of data.

Research one type of conversion in great detail, such as the conversion of electricity to heat.

Build friction loss devices. Examples: model cars for testing on inclined planes, model boats or airplanes.

Use four different light bulbs of different watt ratings (40W, 60W, and 100W), light meter and a thermometer(Celsius) - measure the light production and heat output for set distances from the light sources. Make a bar graph showing the effects of distance to lumens and temperature.

Energy Production:

Research the origins of local electrical power and compare costs and methods of generation with other areas of the country or world.

Use a hand-cranked generator to provide a hands-on demonstration of electrical generation.

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages to various electrical production methods. Include environmental impact, convenience, and cost issues

Meter Reading:

Examine other types of meters.

Have a representative from the utility company explain how the internal workings of a meter operate and consequences of attempting to change the meter readings.

Compare the electrical energy use per student at school compared to the per resident at their home.

Utility Bill Reading:

Have a discussion of the effect of budget billing on energy conservation. (Utility company averages a year's worth of consumption and the consumer pays the average for one year and then any debits and credits are settled.)

Have a utility representative discuss the shut-off procedures for someone who is not paying their bill.

Have a lawmaker or consumer advocate discuss consumer rights in billing and utility connections.

Energy Use of Home Appliances:

Trace appliance use back one generation. Make a list of appliances, have a grandparent or older adult fill out the survey. Find the total number of appliances used. Compare this survey with one from a younger adult and for student's own home. Share data with class.

With family's agreement, plan ways to reduce both the number of appliances and the length of time appliances are used. Then implement this plan from one utility meter reading to the next. Was student's family able to reduce the amount of energy consumed?

Keep a daily log of the number of ways students use energy from the time they get up until the time they go to class. Can they reduce this energy use? How?

Research information on the Energy Guide labeling requirements for major appliances. Visit an appliance store or invite a guest to speak on this topic.

Have students create a floor plan for the home of the future and in each room list the appliances they predict they will own twenty-five years from now. Do they notice any differences?

Lighting Dilemma:

Measure different types of lights with a light meter and decide the "best" amount of light for different purposes(reading, TV watching, computer usage, etc)

Determine pay back rates for different types of light sources over the same length of time. Consumers purchase within their budget without planning the long term effects of energy usage and on going costs.

Measure different colored light sources(white, yellow, green, red incandescent bulbs - same wattage) with a light meter. Discuss the process of filtering.

Energy Efficiency:

Visit an appliance store and read the energy-rating label and record the expected annual savings and the dollar costs of three refrigerators. Compute the simple pay back and first year rate of return for each of them.

Life Cycle costing is a technique for evaluating purchase options. This is done by comparing the total lifetime cost of buying, installing, operating, maintaining, and salvaging an appliance referenced to the same time value of money. Look up "life cycle costing" and report to the class. What is meant by salvage value? List the factors evaluated in the calculation.

Based only on operating costs (e.g. ignoring maintenance cost) determine what the payback would be on a new car of your choice.

Have students calculate the Btus for the electric bill and gas bill and discuss factors that explain how they compare to the Btu's of others in the class. (NOTE: Size of home, number in family, direction house is facing, etc.)

Home Energy Audit

While this audit lesson focuses upon residential dwellings, slight modifications of procedures and checklists could make it appropriate for industrial, commercial, or agricultural buildings.

Have students do an energy audit of the school and share the recommendations with the administration or school board.

Discuss the negative feelings the students may have about conserving electrical energy. What are the negative aspects of conservation? (By now, the benefits should be obvious-saving money and resources.) Conservation often takes self-discipline, development of routine habits, imposing rules upon oneself, lifestyle changes, and changes in purchasing patterns. Oftentimes these things are not fun or easy for people to accept. What ways can the students think of to motivate themselves and others to conserve?

Discuss some practical ways in which students can improve energy conservation in their own homes. Ask, "In what area is your family conserving energy best?" (for example, turning off lights). Ask, "In what area is your family not conserving energy well?" (for example, leaving the TV on while no one is watching). Are any of the students' families involved in serious energy conservation efforts such as the use of solar water heaters, automatic timers on heating/cooling systems, high-efficiency appliances and/or lighting, or other innovative conservation methods? Can the students recommend effective conservation practices to their classmates?

Created for the Fermilab LInC program sponsored by Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory Education Office and Friends of Fermilab, and funded by United States Department of Energy, Illinois State Board of Education, North Central Regional Technology in Education Consortium which is operated by North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL), and the National Science Foundation.


Authors: Sue Emmons, Powell Middle School, Littleton, CO; Kevin Lindauer, John F. Kennedy High School, Denver, CO; Linda Lung, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO; John Sepich, Scott Carpenter Middle School, Westminster, CO; ; Janet Stellema, Monarch K-8, Louisville, CO, Edited by Marge Bardeen NTEP II Project PI.
Created: September 9, 1998 revised August 9, 2001