Examples of Thermal Energy

When it comes to understanding the concept of energy, there are so many types that it gets more confusing and creates a mystery in our minds. Especially when it comes to thermal energy, knowing the definition is not enough; instead, you need examples of thermal energy to grasp the content the way it should be.

Examples prove to be an easy way to comprehend complex theories, ideas, and concepts. This is what we are going to take advantage of in the case of understanding thermal energy and eliminates all our doubts and confusion about it with real-life examples discussed below.

Before we start with the examples, let us have a quick recap of what thermal energy is, what role it has in our lives, and why it is important to learn about it.

Thermal energy

No matter what kind of work you do, you need to have the energy for that. Energy and work are co-related, but we are not going to dive into it. As for thermal energy, it is a form of energy that is produced when particles move in an object or a contained system.

As the atoms vibrate within an object, heat is also produced. However, heat and thermal energy are not the same, but it has the slightest difference. Heat is transferable, whereas thermal energy is contained within it.

If this is something new for you, you can see here what thermal energy is, and then you can move here to see the examples of it.

Considering that you have an idea of thermal energy, let’s now go through a few examples of it.

What are some examples of thermal energy?

There are countless examples of it that you come across daily in your life. Let’s now discuss one by one, and you will know what it is all about.

Solar energy

Top on the list as solar has continued to be a hot topic in recent days. The warmth of the sun is a direct example of thermal energy that we see daily in our life. As the heat from the sun reaches the earth in the form of light, it heats up the atmosphere and raises the temperature. This transmission of energy by the sun to the planet is known as thermal radiation.

Fuel cells energy

Electrochemical devices that produce a limited amount of electricity as a result of chemical reactions are another popular example of thermal energy. When a cell is put into use, a slight amount of it produces heat which is used for energy efficiency. The amount of energy is all influenced by the type of fuel cell you use.

Heat energy from the oceans

From direct exposure to the sun and from greenhouse gas emissions, oceans possess a great amount of thermal energy. You must have heard the concept of shallow and deep-water marine regions; it is because of the temperature variations that it is utilized for a variety of purposes.

Rubbing your hands

Among the simplest examples you can ever find, rub your hands together, and there you will feel thermal energy being produced. It is due to the friction that converts the mechanical energy into thermal.

Melting ice

Another great example of thermal energy that you can experience yourself. Take a glass of warm water and add an ice cube to it.

Now, as you know, energy flows from higher temperature regions to lower temperatures; in this case, it will move from warm water to the ice cube. The water temperature will drop as the energy transfer takes place from the ice cube until the temperature reaches equal.

This has happened because of the thermal energy of the water that makes the ice melt.

Electric toaster

Taking another example from the kitchen, you may have used a kitchen toaster before. As you operate it, the electricity passes through the wire, causing the electron to vibrate in the metal wire. This vibration will generate thermal energy and will produce heat. For more heat, increase the current flow, and the electrons will collide much faster.

Various other electrical components working in a similar manner can be taken as an example of thermal energy.

Other common examples

Besides the examples discussed above, a few common examples that you can see around comprise the following.

  • A cup of hot chocolate
  • Heat engine
  • The heat from a heater
  • Burning candle
  • Baking in an oven
  • Solar cooker
  • Geothermal energy

All these examples depict how thermal energy is produced by the movement of particles within an object.


Understanding the concept of thermal energy is important, and these examples are going to help you in this regard. We think rubbing your hands together is the easiest one of all. Next time you are going to explain to someone about thermal energy, you will have plenty of examples in your mind already. Can you look for some more examples around you other than those mentioned here?