High Electric Bills? Understanding Your Energy Bill Better…
When a typical person receives their electricity bill they simply give it a brief glance and then proceed to pay it. While this is all good and fine, most people don’t actually understand what their electric bill means. Specifically, how much electricity they are using. This is an important thing to understand because if you wanted to go about reducing your electricity bill, you need to know where you’re starting from and how much electricity you are consuming in the first place.
Since electricity and its related terminology are not things that are very well known to an average person, this can seem a bit intimidating at first. But with a few basic terms known and understood, it is actually quite easy to make sense of your electric bill.
The first and most important thing for you to understand is the term “kilowatt hour.”
How much is a Kilowatt Hour?
A kilowatt hour, abbreviated kWh, is a measurement of energy used. Let’s break this term down. Electrical energy is measured in watts. A good way to get an idea of how much energy a watt is, is to look at a traditional light bulb. A 60 watt light bulb consumes 60 watts of electricity in an hour. The average kilowatt hour cost varies depending on where you live. Read further for more info on the US National Average price per kilowatt.
How Many Watts In a Kilowatt?
This system of measurement uses the metric system. So a kilowatt is equal to 1000 watts. Now watts and kilowatts are measured with watt hours and kilowatt hours. This is how much electricity is consumed over the given course of an hour.
Let’s go back to the light bulb example to illustrate this. Let’s assume you have a 100 watt light bulb that runs for 10 hours a day. At the end of each day this light bulb would have consumed one kilowatt hour of energy. 100 watts times 10 equals 1 kilowatt. The math is actually pretty simple.
This is how your power company measures how much electricity you are consuming. If you look at your bill, you will see the total number of kilowatt-hours you consumed.
Now that you know what a kilowatt is you can begin to figure out how much electricity each of your appliances is using.
How Do Electric Companies Calculate Electric Energy Used?
By installing a smart electric meter on your property, energy companies can measures all the electricity your property uses. Smart Meters monitor your energy usage easily and remotely. As your power company measures your electrical consumption in terms of kilowatt hours, the next thing to do is to find out how much they charge you for each one. This can vary greatly depending on where you live.
How Much Does A Kilowatt Hour Cost? Answer: Average in the USA= 12 cents
Depending on where you live in the USA depends on your kilowatt hour cost rate. Hawaii residents have to pay about 24 cents per kilowatt hour which is higher than anywhere else in the country. Other states and regions pay only eight cents per kwh. Central Florida where I live is 11 cents per kilowatt hour. Power rates are climbing at an alarming rate. Just last week a gentleman called me from Delaware and said his rates were doubling in the next few years.
The average for the nation is 12 cents per kilowatt hour. But again, your rate may vary greatly from this.
Another thing to consider is that your electric company charges you based on how much electricity you use. This means that once you use above a certain amount of electricity, your rate actually goes up.
This information can also be found on your electric bill. If you have any questions about this you can always call your power company and have it explained to you so that you understand how much you are exactly paying for electricity.
Why is My Electric Bill So High? Next Step-How to Calculate Electric Bill
Once you figure out your rates you should be able to easily calculate your average cost of electricity per kilowatt hour. For the upcoming examples, we’re going to assume that it is 15 cents per kWh. Now let’s take a look at how to calculate the cost of running your individual appliances.
We’ll start with a simple example, a 100 watt light bulb. Let’s assume you have the 100 watt light bulb running for 5 hours a day every single day. You would be using 500 watt hours hours a day x 30 days in the month.
This gives you 15000 watt hours or 15 kilowatt hours of electricity used per month. At a rate of $0.15 per kilowatt hour you would be paying $2.25 per month to run that single light bulb. So as you can see, the math itself is not very difficult.
Things get tricky when you start trying to calculate how much energy you are using on appliances that don’t use a constant amount of electricity. Take the refrigerator for example. The refrigerator spends some time idle and some time running. You would need to calculate how much time it spends running over the course of an hour.
This can also be hard to calculate because every time you open your refrigerator, the cold air pours out and will necessitate another cycle of running the cooling system. So depending on how many times you open your refrigerator and how often it runs during the hour, will determine its energy consumption.
The best way to figure out something like this is to use a special meter that can tell you how much electricity certain appliances are using. Plugging the refrigerator into this device and waiting to see how much electricity it consumes when it’s running will give you the initial figures that you need.
Of course, you could always refer to an online guide which gives the average amount of electricity spent on a refrigerator. You just want to ensure that you find one that lists a model the same as or very similar to the one in your home. Once you know the average amount of electricity used in an hour you can then follow the mathematical formula above to calculate how much running that particular appliance costs you.
Now You Know How To Save Electricity, it’s time to start saving in your home!
You now have everything that you need in order to save electricity in your home. With the above information, you should be able to isolate which of your appliances are using the lion’s share of energy and therefore will have good targets for either correction or replacement.
You would now only need to isolate which appliances use more electricity than the others and find ways to improve their efficiency.
As all appliances work differently you will need to have a number of strategies which will work for a variety of different appliances. The way in which you would optimize your air conditioner would not work for other appliances. So let’s take a look at different ways to optimize common appliances that you would have in your home.
We will start with the air conditioner as this will probably end up being the appliance that uses more electricity than any other. To begin, ensure that the filter is kept replaced or cleaned regularly. This will improve the ease of airflow and the system will not have to work as hard to circulate air.
Programmable thermostats come with energy saving settings that you can use in order to optimize the usage of the AC itself. Finally, installing an Electric Saver 1200 will go a long way to reducing the amount of electricity this appliance consumes. Air conditioning units are actually terribly inefficient because they will draw more power from the electric company than they actually need.
Adjust the temperature settings of your water heater to fix this. You can also go a step further by wrapping your water heater with a layer of insulating material. This will keep the heat trapped inside for longer and we’ll make the unit more efficient.
The washing machine is another big electricity user in the house. To use less electricity on washing clothes, you will need to opt for doing large loads of laundry instead of many small loads. You may need to get a little bit more organized as to when you do laundry but one large load uses less power than two small loads.
Another way to save energy on washing clothes is to use only cold water. Hot water really isn’t necessary to get good results with cleaning clothes. Most modern cleaning agents and detergents will take care of the toughest stains no matter what temperature water you use. Using hot water only wastes electricity.
A clever way to conserve electricity on general appliances is to unplug them when they’re no longer being used. Some electricity is consumed by appliances even when they are turned off if they are left plugged in. Unplugging your appliances when you aren’t using them circumvents this problem altogether.
You now know how to properly read your electric bill, determine which appliances are using too much electricity and fix the problem so that your electricity bill can be reduced. Put this knowledge to good use and start paying the lowest electricity bill you have in years.
Next Article: More Simple Tips to Save Power >>