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Energy Sources


Energy Ant

The energy sources we use to make electricity can be renewable or non-renewable, but electricity itself is neither renewable nor non-renewable.

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Electricity Basics

Electricity is a secondary energy source

A hand unplugging an electrical appliance from an outlet

Source: Stock photography (copyrighted)

Compact fluorescent light bulbs use about 25% of the electricity used by incandescent light bulbs to produce the same amount of illumination.
Energy efficient light bulb.

Source: Stock photography (copyrighted)

Electricity is the flow of electrical power or charge. Electricity is both a basic part of nature and one of the most widely used forms of energy.

Electricity is a secondary energy source, and it is also referred to as an energy carrier. That means that consumers use energy in the form of electricity, which is produced from the conversion of other sources of energy, such as coal, natural gas, nuclear, solar, or wind energy. These sources of energy are called primary energy sources. The energy sources used to make electricity can be renewable or nonrenewable, but electricity itself is not renewable or nonrenewable.

Electricity use has dramatically changed daily life

Before electricity became available more than 100 years ago, houses were illuminated with candles and whale oil and kerosene lamps, food was cooled in iceboxes, and rooms were warmed by wood-burning or coal-burning stoves.

Scientists and inventors have worked to decipher the principles of electricity since the 1600s. Some notable accomplishments were made by Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, and Nikola Tesla.

Benjamin Franklin demonstrated that lightning is electricity. Thomas Edison invented the first long-lasting incandescent light bulb.

Prior to 1879, direct current (DC) electricity had been used in arc lights for outdoor lighting. In the late 1800s, Nikola Tesla pioneered the generation, transmission, and use of alternating current (AC) electricity, which reduced the cost of transmitting electricity over long distances. Tesla's inventions used electricity to bring indoor lighting to homes and used electricity to power industrial machines.

Despite its great importance in daily life, few people probably stop to think about what life would be like without electricity. Like air and water, people tend to take electricity for granted. But people use electricity to do many jobs every day—from lighting, heating, and cooling homes to powering televisions and computers.