Appliance science

engage appliance scienceThe EU has recently imposed limits on the power ratings of vacuum cleaners, and further limits on other appliances could soon be in place. In this activity students consider a further (fictional) future restriction, on home electricity use. Students calculate the energy transferred daily by the appliances they use. They are then set the challenge of deciding how to cut their personal electricity consumption – do they go for a shorter shower or  banish blow-dries?

Learning objective

  • Solve a problem using scientific knowledge of the power ratings of electrical appliances and the energy they transfer.

Try the activity

You need to login before you download the free activities

Curriculum link

England National Curriculum KS3:

  • Working Scientifically:  Analysis and evaluation: Interpret data … to draw conclusions.
  • Physics: Energy: Comparing power ratings of appliances and comparing amounts of energy transferred

GCSE Combined Science subject content:

  • Working Scientifically:  Analysis and evaluation: Interpret data … to draw conclusions.
  • Physics: Energy: Power as the rate of transfer of energy.

Running the activity

Dilemma The EU has imposed limits on home electricity use. Can students make big enough cuts
Science Students identify appliances with high power ratings, and rank appliances according to their power ratings. They calculate energy transferred by electrical appliances
Decision Students show the energy transferred by the appliances they use in a typical day and decide how to cut their appliance use so as not to exceed their daily personal electricity allowance of 1.5 kWh.
Plenary Reflecting on the decision

For detailed running notes, download the teachers guide.


News story

The news story that the activity was based on.

EU report

Draft proposal which outlines possibilities for future restrictions on electrical appliances.

Write a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  • jfkh11 says:

    Powerpoint Link?

    There does not seem to be an active link to download the powerpoint for this resource. Is there a reason for this?

    • Philippa says:

      Working OK for me…

      Sorry about this JFKH – I’ve just downloaded fine here… Is it working OK for you now? Philippa, from the writing team.

  • jphelps says:

    Appliance science

    Used this with my year 9 class. Students were very engaged with the activity. Will modify the activity next time I use it as most students seemed to spend at least 40 minutes on the shower and couldn’t consider spending less time. This meant that their consumption lines were physically very long. That aside was very useful

  • mutinn says:


    I modified this activity to be done as an IPAD activity and got outstanding for my lesson observation. Students followed the powerpoint and did all the calculations independently and each child worked at their own pace. Happy to share my modified version.

    • Philippa says:


      Well done for the Outstanding – and thank you for modifying to be done as an ipad activity – great idea. Thanks for offering to share this – I’ll ask a colleague where you need to send it! Philippa, from the writing team.

  • jamine01 says:

    appliance science

    excellent resources. Will be using when teaching this topic