If you are vision-impaired or have some other disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act or a similar law, and you wish to discuss potential accommodations related to shopping or ordering on or using the benefits of our website, please contact Alliant Energy at 1-800-ALLIANT (800-255-4268).
Skip Navigation

Energy Words

811: the number your parents or guardians should call before digging in the yard

Atom: the smallest unit of matter, consisting of a positively charged nucleus made of protons and neutrons that is surrounded by orbiting electrons

Biomass: a renewable energy source that comes from material made from plants and animals, such as wood, crops, and even garbage

Carbon Dioxide: a colorless, odorless gas that is present in the atmosphere

Coal: a black, organic rock formed from the remains of dead plants hundreds of millions of years ago

Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL): a type of light bulb that uses up to 75 percent less energy than a traditional bulb

Conductor: a material, such as metal or water, that electricity can easily flow through

Current: the flow of electrically charged particles such as electrons within a conductor or circuit

Electricity: the flow of electrons from one atom to another


Electron: a subatomic particle with a negative electric charge. Electrons make up part of an atom and orbit its nucleus. 

Energy: the ability to organize or change matter (to do work)

Energy Audit: a program where an energy expert inspects your home and suggests ways you can save energy

Energy Conservation: the act of using less energy or saving energy

Energy Efficient: a term that describes products and actions that use less energy due to advanced technology and equipment

ENERGY STAR®: a label given to a product or appliance that shows it meets tough government standards for energy efficiency

Fossil Fuels: fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas that formed from the remains of ancient plants and animals buried underground

Geothermal Energy: heat, hot water, or steam from within the Earth that is used to create electricity and for heating and cooling

Generator: a device that turns mechanical energy into electrical energy using an engine or turbine


Hydrogen: an odorless, colorless, highly flammable gaseous element.

Hydropower: electricity created using energy that comes from moving water

Mercaptan: the substance that utility companies add to natural gas to give it a bad smell, like rotten eggs

Natural Gas: a fossil fuel that is a type of gas that forms in underground pockets near petroleum

Non-Renewable Resource: a resource that is not replaceable once it has been used

Nuclear Energy: energy stored in the nucleus of an atom, released by fusion, fission, or radioactivity

Petroleum: a fossil fuel that means “rock oil,” this smelly liquid is found in underground reservoirs and is also called crude oil

Phantom Energy Loss: the constant draw of electricity by appliances and electronics, even when they’re not being used

Power Grid: a network of poles and power lines that provide a path for electrical energy to flow across the country to homes everywhere

Renewable Resources: energy sources that can be replaced naturally, such as the sun, wind, and water