Energy can remain in the same store for millions of years or sometimes just for a fraction of a second. There are energy transfers going on all the time - whenever a system changes there is a change in the way some or all of the energy is stored.
Examples of energy transfers include:
A swinging pirate ship ride at a theme park
In each of these examples, energy is transferred by one of the following four types of energy transfer:
Doing 'work' is the scientific way of saying that energy has been transferred. For example, a grazing cow, a firing catapult and a boiling kettle are all doing 'work', as energy is being transferred.
Diagrams can be used to show how energy is transferred from one store to another. Two examples are the transfer diagram and the Sankey diagram.
For example, a transfer diagram for a child at the top of a slide may be:
Gravitational energy stored in the child at the top of the slide is transferred as mechanical work done to speed up and to do work against friction. The result of this is a shift of energy from gravitational potential energy to kinetic energy and internal energy (raising the temperature of the child and the slide).
Sankey diagrams start off as one arrow that splits into two or more points. This shows how all of the energy in a system is transferred into different stores.
Sankey diagrams are really useful when the amount of energy in each of the energy sources is known. The width of the arrow is drawn to scale to show the amount of energy.