Teaching Children About The Different Sources of Energy

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A massive part of sustainable living is controlling the amount of energy you consume.  It really helps I feel to teach our offspring exactly where energy comes from so that they can understand as they grow up why it’s so critical to conserve it and this post today seems very fitting as I prepare to home school my kids amongst the coronavirus scare! 

Today I’m going to share with you one or two various forms of energy we use day to day that you could maybe share with your children too… it’s something I’ve never actually thought about since school so it will be certainly something I plan to share with mine! Be sure to keep checking back for up and coming posts in relation to energy because I have all intention of sharing tips on not ways you can reduce your consumption but ways to increase the amount of clean energy you use too!

Main Energy Sources

There are many ways in which we get energy from all over the planet with some of them being alot more more sustainable than others.  It’s virtually impossible to use no energy, but there are certainly better choices as well as ways to reduce your consumption.

Fossil Fuels

A great deal of our energy comes from fossil fuels.  We use them in the form of fuel to drive our cars and other mechanics.  Fossil fuels are also used to power generators to produce electricity.  Over half of our electricity comes from burning coal.

Fossil fuels are those sources of energy that come from organic materials buried deep beneath Earth’s surface.  They can be liquid, solid, or gas.  Liquid and gas fossil fuels come from dead animal remains that have broken down over long periods of time (no I am not your geography teacher don’t worry!)

These include both oil and natural gas with fossil fuels being obtained by using large drills.  These are what can be quite dangerous and environmentally toxic; there have been several environmental catastrophes involving the drilling and transport of oil.

Coal, a solid fossil fuel, comes from the dead remains of plants that have petrified over millions of years and is mined from deep within the ground.  Mining is one of the most dangerous professions in the world as workers can become trapped underground!

The use of fossil fuels greatly contributes to air pollution. As the fuel is burned, it emits carbon dioxide and other chemicals into the atmosphere. Fossil fuels are considered non renewable resources because once they have been used up, they cannot be replaced which is scary because so many of us are heavily dependent on these resources.

Solar Energy

Sunlight is the ultimate source of energy that powers the earth.  It provides so much energy that people have spent many years working to harness that power and convert it into electricity that can be used easily.

There are a few ways that the sun’s energy can be used in modern times.  One is passive solar energy.  This is when structures are built to take advantage of the natural benefits of warmth from the sun and are what you see on the roofs of houses.

Active solar energy uses cells to capture the sun’s energy.  They can be used to power small electronics but can also be used to power larger systems and are sometimes used in homes to supplement traditional electricity.

Solar energy doesn’t leave any pollutants behind, making it a clean source of energy that promotes a sustainable environment but while it has many benefits, it’s not without drawbacks.

Although solar energy is considered renewable because using the sun’s energy doesn’t take away from the energy it produces; it is surprisingly expensive.  The equipment to harness solar energy can be very pricey which is why you probably don’t see as many solar panels up as there should be.  It’s also bulky as it takes a great deal of surface area to capture the sun’s rays.

Wind Energy

Capturing the energy from the wind is nothing new. People have used windmills for hundreds of years to turn turbines that power machinery but now those turbines are being used to generate electricity.

We have Siemens up here in Hull where I live who are committed to driving this potential into real growth for the future of renewable power because using the wind doesn’t take away from it.  It’s also non polluting.  However, the equipment required to harness the wind in an effective manner is again very costly and large.

Wind farms are cropping up in areas where there is a lot of access to wind energy… you will see them on fields alongside motorways up and down the country. This tends to be in large, flat areas.  Recently coastlines have been the favourite site of wind farm developers because of the access to moving air. You can see them in the distance as you look out into the North Sea from Hornsea.

Some of the major complaints about wind farms are that they can be loud and unsightly.  I don’t think they look ‘sexy’ but my goodness what are you going to expect! I can’t comment on the sound as I’ve never actually been that close to one but the fact it usually takes hundreds of windmills facing different directions to actually capture enough energy to use for a power source, if you do have a few nearby you are bound to hear something.

Water Energy

Just as windmills use wind energy to turn turbines, water can also be harnessed to generate electricity.  This is most obviously seen in areas where there are large dams such as the Hoover Dam in Nevada.  

While this type of energy is renewable, some environmentalists disagree with the practice of damming up rivers and rerouting water unnaturally.  To combat some of the problems that occur from changing the natural ecosystem, there are usually measures put into place.

Many dams have nearby hatcheries to help sustain the native populations of fish in the area.  However, some changes to the environment such as water temperature changes make it impossible to keep the ecosystem intact as it was before.

Nuclear Power

Nuclear power is a source of energy that tends to be quite controversial.  It seems like just about every 20 years or so there’s an event at a nuclear power plant that causes people to question its safety and I certainly wouldn’t want to live near one!

Most recently, the disaster at the nuclear plant in Japan has people considering the use of nuclear energy.  Concerns about radiation exposure for workers and nearby citizens make nuclear power difficult to sell and I’m not surprised!

There’s also concern regarding the wastes that nuclear power plants produce.  Waste from these plants can stay radioactive for many, many years.  Storing it safely and effectively is another issue!

Bio-Fuels

Many living organisms produce energy that can be harnessed as fuel.  There are several ways this can be done.  Burning wood, for example, is a type of bio-fuel.  Burning rubbish is another way the energy can be released but be aware of the enviromental rules around this and setting fires in your garden.

Some vehicles are actually being converted to run on vegetable oils.  These burn much cleaner than cars running on fossil fuels.  However, you can’t buy this type of car at a car dealership.  Instead, it will have to be retrofitted by someone who knows how to do it so maybe just get an electric one for now! 😉

Feel free to PIN to read again later..

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About The Money Saving Mum

About The Money Saving Mum

I've always been financially savvy but when the kids came along I needed to up my game! Our finances and priorities changed overnight and it felt like I was spending money as if it was going out of fashion! I needed to start earning extra money just to make ends meet and continuously make sure we got the most out of every single penny we had! Sound familiar? Keep reading... I'm sharing my story to help people like you!

Kirsty

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