How does electricity work?
(Lansing State Journal, December 08,1993)
Now, electricity is actually moving electrons. (Electrons are the negatively charged particles that surround every atom). The electrons can actually flow from atom to atom in metals, particularly those used for power lines. As long as the wires are connected in a loop of some kind, called a circuit, electricity can flow easily. So the power lines that extend out form a power plant into the community, eventually lead all the way back to the plant.
The amount of electricity flowing in power lines is much greater than any individual house could need, so transformers are used to distribute energy to each household. Transformers make use of the physical laws that describe electrical phenomena to drain off a certain percentage of the energy a power lines carrying, and transmit it to wires connected to smaller circuits, like the one in your house.
In your house, there are generally several circuits, each allowing for a certain amount of electricity. This is important because if too much electricity were to flow through a single wire, it could cause a fire and be a shock hazard. When you plug something in, say a light bulb, it uses the electrical energy to do something special. In this case, to create light. Electrical energy can also be used to run motors, like the one that keeps your refrigerator cold. Pr it can be used to produce sounds (from a cassette player), keep time (with a clock) or make calculations (on a computer). In each of these devices, some amount of electricity is used to do something useful.