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Energy Vampire Hunt

45 minutes
Primary subjects: 
Career and Technical Education (CTE): Architecture & Construction, Career and Technical Education (CTE): STEM, Engineering, Environmental Education, Science
9, 10, 11, 12
Average: 0 (0 votes)

Students will plan and carry out an investigation of energy vampires using an Energy Monitor to measure the energy consumption of different electrical devices. Students will collect and chart the data from their investigation and calculate how much money could be saved by unplugging energy vampires.

Key objectives for students
Plan and carry out an investigation of energy vampires using an Energy Monitor to measure the energy consumption of different electrical devices.
Collect and chart the data from an investigation and calculate how much money could be saved by unplugging energy vampires.
Energy, Renewable energy, electrical energy, electrical generation process, energy transformation and energy transfer, renewable versus nonrenewable energy sources
Collaboration, Communication skills, Creative problem solving, Critical Thinking, Systems thinking
Curiosity, Optimism, Resilience
Brain-Based Learning, Design Thinking, Multi-Disciplinary, Multiple Intelligences, Project-Based Learning, Real-World Application, Technology Integration
Background information for teachers

Read the text, Energy Vampires, to familiarize yourself with the concept of energy vampires and the effect they have on our power use.

Materials needed
Key vocabulary
energy vampire, energy monitor, watt
Safety information

Students will be measuring and recording the energy usage of appliances using an energy monitor. It is suggested to clearly explain and model the correct way to use these devices, in order to avoid any misuse and injuries.

Time Exercise Description
15 minutes Introduce
30 minutes Investigate
10 minutes Debrief

Energy Vampire Hunt

Review the steps to using an Energy Monitor. Individuals or groups should receive a printed copy of the Energy Vampire Hunt handout or create a chart in their notebooks to use as they test various common appliances. Kits of testable items can be created by visiting local thrift stores or bringing in personal items from home. Complete the names of the appliances that will be tested, and predict if they are an “energy vampire” or not. Once all items are written down, follow the steps below to begin the investigation:

  1. Plug the Energy Monitor into an outlet.

  2. Push W (Watt = measurement of energy) button.

  3. Plug an appliance (a laptop, hair dryer, coffee maker, etc.) into the Energy Monitor.

  4. Turn on the appliance. Observe as the digital number increases and stops at the highest number of watts (W), which is the amount of energy required to power up the appliance.

  5. Utilize the other measurements of the energy monitor, such as the cost feature, to gain insight into how much the appliance would cost if left on for various amounts of time.

  6. Next, turn off the appliance. Make sure energy monitor is back to measuring watts.

  7. Observe as the number decreases. If the appliance is plugged in but turned off and still shows a watt reading, you have discovered an energy vampire! If the appliance is plugged in but turned off and the watt reading falls to zero, there is no energy vampire present. Test as many devices as possible.

  8. Log findings on the Energy Vampire Hunt.

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Watch How to Use an Energy Monitor for more detailed instructions on using Energy Monitor.

Energy Vampire Audit

Have students work in groups of four to create a take home-audit that they will each take home and complete. Use the Sample Energy Vampire Audit Collection Sheet as a guide. Ensure students include:

  • Name of the appliance and how many are found in the home (for example, televisions - three in the home)
  • Hours a day that appliance is plugged in
  • Hours a day the appliance is on and functioning
  • Watts used by that appliance
  • Calculation of hourly/daily/monthly/yearly cost

Create a loaner system to have students take home an Energy Monitor and test some of their appliances. If this is not a possibility, use the Daft Logic website page “ List of the Power Consumption of Typical Household Appliances ” to look up the wattage of common household appliances. Students can also use the Energy Monitor to find the wattage, cost, and CO2 emissions of the plugged-in appliance. Spread the word about the benefits of slaying energy vampires using @1MillionEnergyActions on social media.

Once Energy Vampire Audits are complete, discuss your findings as a whole group. Consider:

  • How much money and energy can we save by unplugging?
  • What actions can we take at home to conserve money and energy?
Reflection Questions
  • What is an energy vampire?
  • How can we make an impact on electrical consumption?
Standards assessment

Next Generation Science Standards

  • HS-ESS3-1: Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the availability of natural resources, occurrence of natural hazards, and changes in climate have influenced human activity.
  • HS-ESS3-2: Evaluate competing design solutions for developing, managing, and utilizing energy and mineral resources based on cost-benefit ratios.
  • HS-ESS3-3: Create a computational simulation to illustrate the relationships among the management of natural resources, the sustainability of human populations, and biodiversity.
  • HS-ESS3-4: Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.
  • HS-ESS3-5: Analyze geoscience data and the results from global climate models to make an evidence-based forecast of the current rate of global or regional climate change and associated future impacts to Earth's systems.
  • HS-ESS3-6: Use a computational representation to illustrate the relationships among Earth systems and how those relationships are being modified due to human activity.

California Career Technical Education Model Curriculum Standards
Engineering and Architecture
Energy Environment and Utilities

Community connections

What is the Connection to your backyard?

You have been put on a task force to design your community’s energy portfolio. Move through the resources below to learn about current news in your community, data being gathered there, and people who work in the relevant industries. Keep the following questions in mind as you read:

  • What is the timeline to implement your energy portfolio?
  • What existing limitations of the grid need to be considered?
  • Think about what political factors may affect your plan.
  • Are your ideas for the energy portfolio financially sustainable?
  • How can you design the grid for long-term resilience?


  • Learn about an alternative energy project in Richmond.
  • Read about the history of a Contra Costa County power plant.
  • Use Google Scholar to research something related to the energy you are curious about. Use keywords from the module to guide your search.

Climate Data:

  • Google Project Sunroof - Data Explorer (Beta)
    • Navigate to the Data Explorer tab on the website and search for your community’s estimated solar potential and amount of existing solar arrays.
  • Climate Investment Map
    • Navigate to the About section to learn how California is leading efforts in renewable energy projects.
    • Navigate to the Map section and search for your community. Find an example of a clean energy project near you.
  • SF Bay Area Carbon Footprint Map
    • Zoom to where you live and explore what industries have the biggest carbon footprint in your area by navigating through the different tabs.

Now that you’ve built your knowledge of energy concepts and explored what happens in your local community, let’s apply it! You have the opportunity to plan ways you can empower people and change what’s going on in your backyard. Do you see any energy projects happening in or around your school? How can you use what you’ve learned to benefit yourself, your friends, your family, and your community? Think about people working in the field you can connect with. We can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Professional Development Opportunities

The Energy Coalition equips industry practitioners with the expertise needed to tackle complex technical challenges essential to project realization; and designing and delivering leading-edge training and instruction to develop industry knowledge and leadership. To learn more, visit