Ask an Electrical Contractor – How to Compute Kilowatt Hours and Reduce Your Energy Consumption
Math. It’s that thing your teacher warned you’d need some day. And when it comes to understanding your electric bill and how you might save, a little bit of math goes a long way. But many of us balk at the very thought of computing kilowatt hours. In fact, some of us liken arithmetic to pulling teeth. Is this you?
Our ‘Ask an Electrical Contractor’ series aims to answer common questions about residential electricity, as well as provide tips to help you reduce your energy consumption and your bill. Today’s post focuses on understanding the basics of kilowatt hours — no fuss, no calculus, just simple, straightforward and easy. So what exactly is a kilowatt hour, and why is it important to you?
Electrical Contractor Tip #1 – Identify Kilowatt Hours
As a measure of energy consumed over the course of an hour, a single kilowatt hour (kWh) is equal to 1,000 watt hours. For the purpose of billing, the kilowatt hour is the most common unit of measure used by electric utility companies. Locate the kWh rate on your bill.
Electrical Contractor Tip #2 – Learn to Compute and Predict Your Monthly Energy Consumption
The majority of appliances in your home have a wattage label found on the back or bottom of the device.
- Locate the wattage label on your appliance(s)
- Multiply this wattage by the number of hours the appliance is used per day
- Divide the result by 1,000 (to convert watts to kilowatts)
- Multiply the number of kilowatts by 30 (31, 29 or 28 days, respectively)
- Multiply this number by the cost per kilowatt hour in your area (BC Hydro, for example, has a two-tiered rate system, the first being 6.8 cents and the second being 10.9 cents per kilowatt hour. For the purposes of this example, we will use 6.8 cents per kilowatt hour.)
So, how does this work in the real world? Say, for example, your automatic coffee maker is on for an hour each morning. Suppose further that the wattage label on this coffee maker states that it has the capacity to draw a maximum of 650 watts of power. Your ‘math’ would look a little something like this:
650 watts x 1 = 650 watts
650 / 1,000 = .65 kilowatt hours (kWh)
.65 kWh x 30 days = 19.5 kWh (consumed per month)
19.5 kWh x 6.8 cents (0.068) = $1.33 (in energy costs each month)
Electrical Contractor Tip #3 – Reduce Your Energy Consumption
Home heating systems are the biggest energy guzzlers, especially during the winter months. Reduce your home-heating energy bills by making sure your system is in good working order. Cleaning or replacing filters regularly, removing obstructions to vents or upgrading to a programmable thermostat will help you save money. However, the best wintertime habit to embrace: Put on a sweatshirt or pair of socks before making the decision to turn on the heat.
Use the knowledge of kilowatt hours to make informed decisions about how you consume energy. Still have questions? Ask your 1-888-burnt-out? electrical contractor about residential energy efficiency.
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