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Appliance Smart

Explore how to save energy when using appliances and create magnets with energy conservation messages.

  • Grades 4-7
  • Hands On
  • 45 mins

Overview

In this activity, students learn tips about saving energy with our home appliances by creating energy-saving slogans, making magnets and taking a laundry conservation challenge.

What you'll need

  • “Energy-saving slogans” student handout (print one copy per 2 students and cut in half) 
  • “T-shirt magnet” template 
  • Scissors, pencils, crayons or markers (per student or group) 
  • Small fridge magnets, magnetic tape, or regular tape

Instructions

Appliance Smart

  1. Explain to your students we’ll be learning about how to save energy when using various appliances. Start by brainstorming the types of appliances we might use day to day like fridges, clothes washers and dryers, and dishwashers. Not everyone has all these appliances; discuss other ways we might wash dishes or do laundry without these appliances in our homes. Consider ways without using energy like hanging our clothes to dry or hand washing clothes in cold water.  
  2. Ask your students to list reasons why saving energy is important. Some examples:
    • help the environment and combat climate change
    • conserve natural resources
    • help our family save on their energy bills
  3. Provide an “Energy-saving slogans” handout for each student. Explain that an appliance shop wants to create t-shirts for their staff with slogans about saving energy. By choosing a word from the list, have students fill in the missing word (answer key in the "Notes to help you teach" section below). 
    • Alternatively, students can write down from 1 to 8 the missing words in their correct order.  
  4. Have students share their answers and any additional energy saving ideas they have about appliances. 
  5. Show students the “T-shirt magnet” template. Explain that they'll be creating t-shirt images with an energy saving slogan to put on the fridge, dishwasher, clothes washer or dryer at home.   
  6. Have students design their t-shirts by decorating and adding an energy saving slogan. They can create their own or choose one from the previous handout. Once complete, have students cut out the t-shirt image, and attach the magnetic tape to the back. 
    • Alternatively, students could use tape or a fridge magnet they have at home.  
  7. Ask students to take home their creations and attach them to an appliance as a reminder to save energy.

Appliance challenge

  1. Challenge students to get appliance smart by helping their families do the laundry this week. Remember energy saving tips like using cold water instead of hot and only washing full loads. Students can help either at home or at the laundromat.  For an extra bonus challenge, ask students to hang their clothes to dry rather than using the dryer. Ready, set, go wash!

Additional Information

  • Assess students’ ability to share ideas pre and post the “Energy-saving slogans” missing word activity 
  • Assess students’ ability to work independently; designing, creating and presenting information 
  • Assess students’ understanding of ways to save energy with our appliances, and why saving energy is important
  • Students can participate in these activities in school or at home. Students at home who do not have access to a printer, can participate in the t-shirt slogan activity by writing down from 1 to 8 the missing words in their correct order.  

Energy-saving slogans answer key

  1. Door / Porte
  2. Cold / Froid
  3. Full / Plein
  4. Lint filter / Filtre à charpie
  5. Clothes dryer / Sèche-linge
  6. Hang / Pendre
  7. Run / Faire fonctionner
  8. Air dry / Sécher à l’air

Appliances

Appliances can consume a lot of energy but there are smart behaviour changes we can make to save energy. The following are some tips and background information.  

  • Check if your appliances have any energy-saving modes or settings you can use. 
  • Help your appliances last longer and run more efficiently by regularly cleaning them.

Fridge

  • To use the optimum amount of energy, set your fridge temperature to 2-3 degrees Celsius and your freezer to -18 degrees Celsius. 
  • An empty fridge uses more energy than a full one. If your fridge is empty put a jug of water in the fridge. This will save energy and keep your food cold longer in case of a power outage.
  • 30% of the cold air escapes every time you open the fridge door. Consider what you need before opening the fridge door.
  • Your fridge is the appliance that uses the most electricity in your home per year. If you have a second fridge that you don’t use, unplug it.

Clothes Washer

  • Try to run full loads of laundry, as a partial load uses the same amount of energy as a full load.
  • Wash clothes when they’re actually dirty. If not, fold them and reuse another day.
  • If possible, wash laundry using cold water as 90% of the energy used in a clothes washer goes towards heating the water. Clothes will also last longer since cold water is gentler on fabrics.

Clothes Dryer

  • The clothes dryer is the home appliance that uses the most energy per use
  • Hang clothes to dry to save energy either outdoors or inside using a drying rack.
  • Drying one load of laundry immediately after another will save energy.
  • Cleaning the lint filter each time before drying clothes will save energy and help your dryer last longer. Cleaning the lint filter also reduces the risk of fire. 

Dishwasher

  • Run the dishwasher when you have a full load. If you only have a few dishes hand washing is an option. 
  • Before putting dishes in the dishwasher wipe them with a cloth to remove scraps rather running them under hot water. 
  • Try opening the dishwasher door to let your dishes air dry without using electricity.
  • If washing dishes by hand, wash them in a bowl of hot soapy water and rinse using cold water. 

ENERGY STAR® Appliances

ENERGY STAR® appliances can be more expensive to buy, but they save energy and money over their lifetime since they are more efficient than standard appliances. See here for more information and how to recycle your old appliance.

Young people can take action

A greater understanding of ways to save energy when using our appliances empowers students to practice energy conservation and care for their near environment. With your help, we can foster a culture of Power Smart youth in British Columbia together. 

Energy conservation and clean energy

We use energy in our daily lives in many ways. We use it to get to school, power our lights, cook our food, heat our homes and to make and transport goods. Some of our energy comes from clean renewable sources like the sun, wind and water. Fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) are also used as energy sources. They come from ancient plants and animals, and when burned, release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and water vapour, trap heat from the sun and warm the Earth. 

Choosing renewable energy sources helps reduce the impact of our energy use on the environment. In B.C., most electricity is generated from water, a clean and renewable source. Non-renewable energy sources have a greater impact on the environment than renewable energy sources. Burning fossil fuels for energy releases greenhouse gases and carbon into the environment that had previously been trapped underground.

Our "Appliance Smart" activities provide a link to the core competencies of the curriculum. The activities engage students in learning about ways to save energy with our appliances and how we can all participate in using less energy. 

Relevant core competencies:

Communications 

  • Acquiring and presenting information

Thinking

  • Creative thinking: Creating and innovating
  • Critical thinking: Designing and developing 

Personal & Social

  • Personal Awareness and Responsibility: Self-regulating
  • Social Awareness & Responsibility: Contributing to community and caring for the environment

The activities also connect to a variety of grade-specific curricular competencies and content in a variety of subjects including Science, Applied Design, Skills and Technologies, English Language Arts, and Arts Education