Ask the Superexpert about Electricity & Natural Gas

Have you ever wondered why shoes hanging on a power line don’t get fried? Or why natural gas flames are blue? Now you can get answers to these and all your energy-related questions. Just Ask an Superexpert!

The Superexpert answers new questions regularly, so check back to see if YOUR question is up!”

Answer: This is a very important subject to be teaching kids, Phong, and we are happy to help direct you to some answers!

Answer: Lights run on electricity. If you leave lights on when you’re not using them, you waste electricity. Turning off lights when you leave a room not only saves electricity, it also helps reduce your family’s energy bill. For more ideas on how to save energy, check out the Energy Efficiency page of this website:

Answer: Electricity is measured in voltage (abbreviated as volts) and amperage (abbreviated as amps). To understand the difference between them, think of water in a hose. Opening the hose faucet supplies the pressure to move the water, and this pressure is like voltage. The amount of water that moves through the hose is like amperage. There is a third unit of measurement, wattage (abbreviated as watts) that describes the work electricity does. Watts are the product of volts and amps. Or, to say it mathematically, watts = volts x amps.

Answer: The energy cycle is a process by which some of the sun’s energy is cycled through plants and then released back into the environment. The cycle starts with photosynthesis, in which plants capture sunlight to produce sugars. The sugars are used by plants as food to give them energy to grow. Because animals can’t produce their own food the way plants can, they get their energy by consuming plants, or animals that have eaten plants. When the animals die, they decompose and the energy that is stored in their bodies is released back into the environment, completing the cycle.

Answer: PG&E provides both natural gas and electricity to our customers (hence our name, Pacific Gas & Electric). We serve approximately 15 million people throughout a 70,000-square-mile service area in northern and central California.

Answer: Turbines turn electromagnets that are surrounded by heavy coils of copper wire. The moving magnets cause the electrons in the copper wire to move from atom to atom, generating electricity.

Answer: A substation is a facility where equipment lowers the voltage of the electricity in high-voltage transmission lines so that the electricity can travel safely along smaller lines for local distribution. The equipment inside a substation is very dangerous to touch; that’s why substations have warning signs on them and you should never go inside one.
Answer: This is a lot of questions wrapped up in one! Because it would take up a lot of space for me to address all of them here, I think the best way for you to get your answers is to check out the In Case of an Electrical Emergency link in the Electrical Safety-SMART! section of this website at
Answer: It is recommended to keep your house temperature at 68°F during the day, and much lower at night. Three to five percent more energy is used for each degree the furnace is set above 68°F. A programmable thermostat can help you save energy by lowering the temperature while you’re asleep or at work. When you are out of town for a few days, it’s best to turn the heat off altogether, but if you live in an area with freezing temperatures and have central heating, leave heat on at its lowest setting. This helps to prevent pipes from freezing.
Answer: A turbine generator produces electricity at a power plant, after which the electricity is sent to a transformer that boosts the voltage so that it can travel long distances over power lines more efficiently. (Voltage is a measure of the force with which the electricity is “pushed” through the lines.) The electricity then travels along thick, high-voltage transmission cables made of copper or aluminum. When these high-voltage lines approach neighborhoods, transformers along the power lines’ path decrease the voltage to levels that are safe for use in homes, schools, and other buildings. Because it travels along a circuit, the electricity then returns from buildings back to the transformers and power lines.
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