What is domestic energy?

  • Electricity is generated in power stations from non-renewable sources, such as gas or coal. It is also generated from renewable sources, such as wind turbines and solar panels.

  • Appliances like mobile phones use very little electricity whereas heating appliances use much more.

  • You can use less electricity by switching off lights and not leaving appliances on standby.

Where does electricity come from?

In the UK, much of our electricity is supplied by generators in power stations. A generator is a magnet that is placed at the centre of a wire coil. Rotating the magnet produces an electric current.

In all power stations the generators are turned by turbines. The turbines are turned by high pressure steam, which is produced by heating water with the fuel. In fossil fuel power stations, water is heated by burning gas, oil or coal. In nuclear power stations, the water is heated by energy transferred from nuclear reactions. Fossil fuels and nuclear fuels are non-renewable.

Renewable energy sources include wind, moving water (hydroelectric), and sunlight. Wind turbines use wind to directly power a turbine. Hydroelectric power stations use moving water to power a turbine. They both rely on movement, rather than heat, to generate power. Solar cells, on the other hand, convert sunlight directly to electricity, requiring neither turbines nor generators.

What is domestic energy?

Domestic energy is energy used in the home. You need energy at home for cooking, heating and to power devices and appliances. Many houses burn gas for heating and cooking. Electricity supplies most other home energy needs.

How much electricity do you need at home?

Different appliances need different amounts of electricity. A mobile phone transfers just 0.5 joules of energy every second. An electric oven might transfer 3000 joules per second.

Electricity meters measure the amount of electrical energy you use at home. The more you use, the more you pay.

How can you use less electricity at home?

There are many simple ways to save electricity around the home. You could switch off lights, or avoid leaving the television on standby. You could also wash your clothes less often, or do less ironing.

The less electricity you use, the cheaper your bills and the smaller the amount of resources needed to generate your electricity. Using less electricity may also mean that less carbon dioxide is added to the atmosphere.

Domestic energy quiz

Find out how much you know in this quick science quiz.

Where next?

Discover more about this topic from around Bitesize.

What is solar energy?
What is combustion?
What is electricity?