Interview with the AMPire

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AMPire_PlayPicture

MAIN TOPIC OF VIDEO: Vampire power / phantom load / standby power

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

Frame:

  1. What is an “energy vampire”?
  2. What is the significance of the title “Interview with the AMPire”?
  3. What do energy vampires have to do with climate change?

 

Focus:

  1. What did you notice about the scene when Mr. V was chewing on the phone charger?
  2. What does a power meter do?
  3. How does using a power strip help save energy?

 

Follow-up:

  1. What are some ways that vampire loads are taking place in your home?
  2. What actions could you take to reduce the amount of electricity used by vampire loads?
  3. How can you find out how much energy each of the devices/appliances in your home uses?

 

ANSWERS TO DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Frame:

  1. What is an “energy vampire”?

Energy vampires are electronics or electronic appliances that continue to consume power even though they are not being used. They continue to suck in electric power (so to speak) while off or in standby mode.

 

  1. What is the significance of the title “Interview with the AMPire”?

This video features the concept of vampire power, where electronics and appliances not in use continually draw energy. “Amp” is short for “ampere,” which is the unit of measurement for electric current. This is a fitting name since electric current continues to run through power cords plugged into the wall even when not actively being used.

 

  1. What do energy vampires have to do with climate change?

Nonrenewable resources such as coal continue to be our primary source of electric power in the United States. Coal-burning power plants emit a lot of carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) into the atmosphere, which is a leading cause of global climate change (green house gases absorb heat, causing temperatures to rise). Thus, the less electricity we use, the less greenhouse gases emitted.

 

Focus:

  1. What did you notice about the scene when Mr. V was chewing on the phone charger?

Nothing was being charged on the other end. The phone charger was plugged into the wall, but not used (however, as we know, this still uses electricity). Likewise, there were other electronics in the house that were constantly plugged in when not in active use.

 

  1. What does a power meter do?

The power meter is a device that measures how much energy electronics use, you can use them with the electronic turned off, but still plugged into the wall to measure, or discover, vampire loads.

 

  1. How does using a power strip help save energy?

A power strip allows multiple electronics to be plugged into the strip and controls the use of electricity through a switch. When the switch is turned off, all of the devices on the power strip can be turned off at the same time, effectively stopping the flow of electric current through the cords.

 

Follow-up:

  1. What are some ways that vampire loads are taking place in your home?

Answers may vary, but should reflect scenarios mentioned/showed in the video.

 

  1. What actions could you take to reduce the amount of electricity used by vampire loads?
  • Unplug electronics when not in use
  • Use built-in energy saving features like the sleep mode on laptops
  • Use a power strip and turn the switch off when electronics are not being use/not charging
  • Replace old electronic devices and appliances with Energy-Star ones which have lower standby consumption and require less energy during use (they are made to be more energy efficient)

 

  1. How can you find out how much energy each of the devices/appliances in your home uses?

A power meter can tell you how much energy is being used by each of the devices/appliances in your home.

 

ADDITIONAL TOPICS AND LEARNING EXPERIENCES

 

Have students watch this Discovery Channel clip about vampire devices, the Kill-a-watt, and the smart strip and discuss ways in which these could be use in their homes:

 

http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/437-green-gadgets-the-kill-a-watt-video.htm

 

If there is access to a Kill-a-watt or a smart strip, give the students an opportunity to practice using them. They could read the numbers displayed on a Kill-a-watt and create data charts to track energy usage for various electronics/appliances, especially comparing active mode vs. standby mode.

 

ADDITIONAL NOTES AND RESOURCES

 

Solar 4R Schools has a great lesson on Home Energy Consumption where they measure energy usage and then figure out the costs associated with their use:

http://www.solar4rschools.org/teach/teacher-activity-center/home-energy-consumption

 

Students will calculate the energy consumption of a set of common household devices based on their operating power rating and then investigate the power consumption of other devices in their homes.

 

Credit: This teacher resource has been adapted from content originally developed by Hannah Sun.

 

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