What is a kilowatt hour?
If you want to save money on your energy bills, then it’s important to know how much electricity and gas you’re using, and how your energy provider bills you for this. This means it pays to understand what kilowatt hours (kWh) are, how many of them your appliances use and how much your supplier charges you for them. In this guide, we explore each of these topics to give you a greater understanding of how you’re charged for the power you consume.
What does kWh mean?
A kWh is equal to 1,000 watts of energy used over the course of an hour. Your electricity or gas provider uses this unit of energy to calculate how much they should charge you for the power your home or business consumes.
Different makes and models of appliances use varying levels of energy, but to give you a rough idea of how much energy a kWh represents, it may be approximately equivalent to boiling a kettle 10 times, or spending two days on your laptop.
You can be much more precise than this however. It is straightforward to work out how many kWhs specific electrical devices use. Most of the appliances you find in your home or workplace are rated in watts. This information should be provided on the product label. If you can’t find it there, check the owner’s manual. Once you have the energy rating in watts, convert it into kilowatts by dividing it by 1,000 and then multiply this figure by the number of hours you use the device for. For example, if a desktop computer has a power rating of 100 watts and you use it on average for eight hours a day, it will consume 0.8kWh of electricity per day.
You will be able to find the number of kWh your property has consumed in your energy bills. This figure should be prominently displayed on each bill. Look out for it in the ‘usage’ section. Your electricity or gas supplier will clearly set out how many kWhs you have used and how much you are paying per kWh.
Seeing this information and understanding exactly what it relates to can be a good incentive to find ways to lower your energy usage and cut your gas and electricity bills. For example, you can see how your home or business energy use compares to the national average. If your consumption is greater than average, you may want to look for ways to save power. This could involve replacing old devices with more efficient models and/or changing the way you use your appliances. For instance, you could get into the habit of switching electricals off rather than leaving them on standby when you’re not using them.
How much does a kWh cost?
It’s common to ask ‘how much is a kWh?’, but there’s no set answer to this question. The amount you pay per kWh for gas and electricity will depend on a range of factors, including the type of energy plan you’re on, where you’re based, the payment method you use (for example, prepayment or credit) and – depending on your tariff – what time of the day or night you consumed the energy.
Because there’s no standard price for gas and electricity in the UK, the amount you pay per unit could vary significantly from your neighbour. However, it does pay to keep an eye on average prices. According to the Energy Saving Trust, the cost of electricity can be up to three times higher per kWh than gas. Currently, average electricity prices are around 15p per kWh, while gas is around 4p per kWh on average. As touched on previously though, what represents a good deal for you will depend on a host of different factors. This means it’s useful to look at what similar households or businesses are paying for their energy.
Should I consider switching?
One of the benefits of having a clear understanding of what a kWh is, how many of these units you’re using and what you’re being charged for them is that it makes it much easier to know if you’re getting a good deal from your energy supplier.
Because the UK has an open energy market, there are lots of options when it comes to electricity and gas tariffs, so it pays to shop around for the best deal. To save yourself time and effort, you can turn to an energy comparison and switching specialist such as Utility Bidder. We make it quick and simple to find competitive tariffs, and we can liaise with existing and new suppliers to take care of the switching process on your behalf.
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Rob says that thanks to the competitive rates secured by Utility Bidder in his studio, it would actually be cheaper to live there than at home! “We pay about £30 a month for gas during the winter and around £25 a month for electricity – and that’s despite having a lot of energy guzzling equipment such as studio lights and fan heaters. Our energy bills at home are far more expensive!”
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