Home energy detectives | BCHydro Power Smart for Schools

Home energy detectives

Investigate how much electrical energy is being used around your house.

Activity Image
30 mins
Hands on


How do we use energy? Your students become energy detectives in this activity, which has them performing a small home electricity audit over three days. After analyzing the results, they can start thinking of ways to conserve energy at home. 

BC Hydro


What you'll need

Introduce the activity

  1. As a class, talk about how everyone uses energy at home. Do they know how much electricity they use? Do they know how much that electricity costs? Make sure your students understand that saving energy starts with understanding use and cost. Encourage discussion about things scientists need to do science: facts and measurements.
  2. Watch the "How do we measure electricity" video to help your students understand power and units to measure energy.
  3. Hand out the “Home energy detectives” worksheet and explain the activity. Students will be monitoring how much electricity they are using at home over three days. Have your students choose three to five electrical appliances. Review the procedure, answer any questions, and have your students choose three appliances to list in the chart on the second page of the handout.
  4. Emphasize the importance of collecting good data.

Analyze the data

  1. After your students have collected their data at home and performed the calculations necessary to complete their worksheet, put them into groups to review their charts.
  2. Together, they can work on the analysis section of the worksheet. You may need to review how to do calculations with minutes and hours.
  3. Give each group some chart paper and have your students brainstorm ways electricity is used in their lives. Then they can identify five things they can do to reduce the amount of electricity they use.
  4. Post their idea sheets around the room and encourage groups to look at them.
  5. As a class, discuss the importance of understanding our energy use, the cost of energy, and ways to conserve.

Modify or extend this activity

  • Challenge your class to create a conservation action plan and commit to saving a specific amount of energy. They can use the data they’ve collected from their audits as a starting point.
  • Have your students work through Energy conservation in action” to explore other ways to think about conservation and sustainability.

Curriculum Fit

Grade 9 Science

Curricular competencies

Questioning and predicting
  • Demonstrate a sustained intellectual curiosity about a scientific topic or problem of personal interest
Planning and conducting
  • Collaboratively and individually plan, select, and use appropriate investigative methods, including field work and lab experiments, to collect reliable data
Processing and analyzing data and information
  • Seek and analyze patterns, trends, and connections in data, including describing relationships between variables, and identifying inconsistencies
  • Use knowledge of scientific concepts to draw conclusions that are consistent with evidence
  • Communicate scientific ideas, information, and perhaps a suggested course of action for a specific purpose and audience, constructing evidence-based arguments, and using appropriate scientific language, conventions and representations
  • Express and reflect on a variety of experiences, perspectives, and worldviews of place


  • Observe your students during the group discussions and group work, and note their ability to participate.
  • Assess each student’s Home energy detectives” worksheet for completeness and accuracy. Note their ability to accurately record data and make calculations.

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