We get most of our energy for regular household functions from something called fossil fuels – these include oil, natural gas and coal. They’re called fossil fuels because they were formed over millions of years by a combination of heat from the Earth’s core, and the pressure from rock and soil pressing on the remains (or fossils) of dead plants and animals.
The energy that is always in storage just waiting to be used is called potential energy. Many things start with potential energy and once they begin to move, the energy becomes kinetic. So kinetic energy is the energy being used when something is in motion. For example, flowing water is an example of kinetic energy.
Energy has always been around, since long before people could even read or write. Somewhere along the line, humans learnt how to use energy to help with daily activities. When our ancestors discovered fire, they started using it for cooking, staying warm and even scaring away wild animals. The discovery of fire was civilisation’s first great energy discovery. Other great discoveries include:
Electricity is energy. In the same way as you eat a Spur Cheddamelt Burger and drink a glass of orange juice to keep you going, machines and gadgets “eat” electricity to keep them going. In your home, electricity runs the lights, the toaster, the television and even some of your toys. It’s hard to imagine life without it.
Using electricity is putting a huge strain on our planet, so always remember to: