Seattle Commercial & Industrial Electrical Contractor
4826 B Street NW Suite 101 Auburn, WA 98001
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11 Aug 2017

Electricity, Energy, and Power: What’s the Difference?

At Kirby Electric, we aim to educate others on proper electrical techniques and plans. Correct use of language makes a difference when discussing electrical construction and services. Electricity, energy, and power have become interchangeable in common, every day speech. However, these three terms have very distinct definitions and should not be used interchangeably. Read on to explore the differences between electricity, energy, and power and how to properly define them.


Most define electricity as a form of energy or the flow of energy. Both of these definitions would be incorrect to assume. Electricity has to do with the charge of atoms. Atoms are the basic building blocks of everything, including you and the device you are reading this blog on. Breaking it down even further, atoms are made up of protons, neutrons, and electrons. Electrons move between atoms based on their electrical charge and magnetic forces. As these electrons move quickly, electricity is created.

Electricity can also be thought as being in two different categories, static and current. You can see static electricity when you pull laundry out of the dryer or when you rub a balloon through your hair. Current electricity is what flows through the lines and cables to your electric devices. Electricity, however, is not to be confused with electrical energy, or stored energy.


Energy gives things the ability to move and work. The definition of energy is the “capacity to do work.” In other words, energy is the total amount of work that is done. Work is defined as exerting a force over a distance. When you push something around, whether that be a box or a sofa, that is work. Energy makes it possible for you to do this work.

Energy is calculated by the strength of the force needed to move something over a distance. While there are many different types of units to measure energy with, the most common is watt-hour.


While energy is about the total amount of work, power is how fast you are able to accomplish that work. This means power is how fast something can produce or consume energy. Say you are planning a cross country road trip. You have two means of transportation, a sports car or a racehorse. Assuming all other factors are equal, both can accomplish the means to cross the country. However, the sports car will be able to finish this task much quicker than the horse. Therefore, this means that the car can transfer the energy much quicker than the horse. The sports car has the higher power level and, thus, can travel faster.

Putting It All Together

While electricity, energy, and power all seem the same on the surface level, they are, in fact, very different. It is helpful to know their differences as you further your electrical knowledge. At Kirby Electric, we take pride in our electrical knowledge, and we are ready to assist you. We provide excellent electrical services for commercial and industrial contracting. Consider contacting us today to discuss electrical plans for you.

About Kirby Electric

As Seattle’s premier electric company, Kirby Electric specializes in commercial and industrial contracting. We provide top electrical services that best fit your building’s needs and present energy management solutions. Such solutions provide economically and environmentally beneficial services. Contact us today and request a quote at (253) 859-2000 or online here to learn more about our services.

28 Mar 2016

How to Save Energy in a Commercial Building

Did you know the average commercial building wastes 30 percent of the energy it consumes? Additionally, $200 billion is spent annually on electricity and natural gas for commercial buildings, which contributes to nearly half of our nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. As startling as that reality is, there’s plenty of ways to save energy.  Read on to check out some low cost improvements that can be made for reducing energy consumption in your office or commercial building.

Perform a Nighttime Audit

For a commercial building, it is likely a large portion of excess energy is being wasted at night. This is why an energy audit conducted after hours could help determine which sources of waste could be minimized or all together eliminated.

Monthly Maintenance

Each month, make a habit of checking and maintaining the cooling and heating equipment used in the commercial facility. This will help make sure everything is working correctly and efficiently.

Limit Lighting

Are lights turned off when they should be? It’s estimated that lighting consumes 25 to 30 percent of energy in commercial buildings. Depending on the space, free natural lighting from windows can even suffice over traditional lights. Not to mention, it’s free! Keeping lights off when not in use can not only reduce energy consumption, but it can also lower lighting expenses by 10 to 40 percent.

Enable Sleep Settings

Each office computer is equipped with a power management function. This should be enabled on each monitor so that it instantly goes to sleep when not in use. Additionally, all sleep functions should be enabled on printers, fax machines, copiers, scanners, and other various devices.


Even when equipment is in standby or sleep mode, it still eats energy. For example, one building found that eight percent of their annual electric bill was allocated to their standby power alone. Luckily, there’s an easy fix to this, unplug what’s not in use! Talk with your office’s IT department or your office manager about whether unplugging certain products at night is a viable solution to saving money and energy.

Heating & Cooling

Set the thermostat to a lower temperature when the commercial building is not occupied. Have you checked the filters? They can help reduce energy usage by changing them out monthly. Also, make sure your vents are completely unblocked. As much as 25 percent more energy is required for air distribution when vents are blocked by furniture.


There is no more affordable way to limit energy consumption, than basic energy education! Make it known how much energy is being wasted when certain actions occur. Plus, prospective employees want to work for an environmentally conscientious company.

Commercial Energy Management Programs

Did you know you can lower your business’s energy bills without engaging in a substantial investment? Puget Sound Energy offers commercial energy management programs that can be tailored to fit your building’s needs. The programs help identify problem areas, and provide suggestions along with incentives that can cover some or all of your implementation costs.

About Kirby Electric

Kirby Electric, Inc. is a premier electrical contractor specializing in commercial and industrial electrical construction. Our dedicated and knowledgeable team of electricians, low voltage technicians and office staff are led by senior leadership whose core philosophy is consistently delivering exceptional service. Kirby Electric offers a wide array of services to meet the needs of our customers and ensure a smooth operation of their facilities. Learn more about our services by calling 253-859-2000 or contacting us online.

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