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Back to the Basics: How Electricity is Delivered

31 March 2014

Folks, I want to get back to the basics. To fully understand the impact of energy conservation it’s important to know about the journey electricity takes to get to our homes.


A flow diagram of power generation, transmission, and distribution from the power plant to residential houses.

Fun Facts About Electricity’s Journey Home

  1. Where your electricity is sourced varies. Your specific utility’s electricity may come from all its own power plants, or it may purchase a certain amount from other utilities, or independent power producers. Most likely your electricity is a mix of renewable and non renewable energy. Your utility decides what source of electricity to use based on the time of day, location, cost, and environmental regulation (source).
  2. Providing electricity in the right amount is a tricky task since electricity must be produced at the same time it is being used due to the difficulties surrounding electricity storage (Source).
  3. A major part of electricity’s journey is going through transformers to step down the electricity voltage to be used in your home. High voltage transmission lines are used when possible because they waste less energy than lower voltage lines. About 10 % of the electricity that leaves the power plant is lost in the transmission process (Source).
  4. Overall 66% of the energy used for electricity is lost in production (source). The Electricity flow and the substantial loss of energy in this process are shown in the figure below.

Next time you turn on the light or hear your fridge click on, try and remember the journey electricity takes to get to your home and the energy it takes to produce it. I hope this can inspire some energy saving action!

For a more in depth view of the basics take a look at the Innovation Exchange’s Power and Energy Primer blog series.


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