In the world of electricity, the term ‘kilowatt hour’ is a very important one as if affects consumption and billing. It is the standard unit for the measurement of consumption of electricity which then informs how much you will be billed per time. It is therefore necessary for anyone who prioritizes energy efficiency to understand this concept clearly.
In this article, we will explore the concept of kilowatt hour (kWh) and how we can use this knowledge to maximize our power consumption while saving money. We would also share tips on how to conserve electricity and also show you how to calculate your power consumption per kWh.
Table of Contents
Defining the Kilowatt-Hour
kWh is the standard measurement for the amount of electrical power that translates into the consumption of 1,000 watts for an hour. A lot of people think that 1kWh is the same as a chronological hour but that is not the case. The measure of a kWh is actually dependent on the quantity of electricity consumed.
The following are facts about electricity consumption in kWh:-
- 1 kilowatt is equivalent to 1000 watts this therefore means that a device that needs 1000 watt of electricity to function will consume 1kWh after an hour.
- A gadget that needs 500 watts to operate will use 0.5kWh after an hour while the one that needs 2000 watts will have used 2 kilowatt hours.
- For a gadget to use 1kWh it must be in operation for at least 1 hour.
The quantity of kilowatt hours each household uses depends on a number of factors and they include the following:-
- Size of the house- It goes without saying that smaller homes will consume less electricity than larger homes.
- Insulation – The quality of insulation will determine how energy efficient it will be which in turn translates to its power consumption.
- Heat sources- Some source of heat are more energy efficient than others
- Electrical Appliances – The older the electrical appliances used by a household, the more power they consume.
- Number of people in the household – The higher the number of people in a household, the higher the energy consumption.
- Weather Conditions – When it is hot, the house needs to be cooled and when it is cold, the house needs to be warmed. So extreme weathers consume more energy for cooling and heating.
- Lifestyle and Habits – The lifestyle and habits of the inhabitants of a house determines how much electricity they consume. The number of showers they take, how much dirty laundry and dishes they generate and the temperature they maintain in the house.
How to Calculate your Energy Consumption
To be able to effectively calculate the power consumption in your household, you need to know the power that each appliance uses and how often and long they are in use. Considering these factors will help you know the exact or close approximate of kilowatt hours (kilowattime in Norwegian) you consume within a time frame. This will also help you know how much to expect when your electricity bills come.
Find below some examples of the power consumption of some of the most common domestic appliances:-
- LED light bulbs – 0.003 to 0.012 kW
- Incandescent lamp – 0.03-0.08 kW
- Television – 0.1-0.4 kW
- Microwave – 0.9-1.5 kW
- Air conditioner -0.9-2 kW
- Oven -1.2 – 3 kW
- Fridge – 0.2—0.4 kW
From the above, you can deduce that calculating your power consumption will entail multiplying the kW by the number of hours the appliances are on per day, week or month.
Let’s use this hypothetical household for a practical example:-
Mr and Mrs XYZ have a fridge with a power of 200W which is 0.2kW and they let it run for 12 hours per day; their daily power consumption will be 2.4kW. Therefore to get their monthly kWh, you will calculate 2.4kW by the number of days in a month. So let’ say 31 days in the month of July will give us 74.4kWh.
The process of making all these calculations can be quite tasking which is why many people do not bother at all. However, thanks to technology, you can know the exact kWh that you consume without any tedious calculations; all you need is a smart meter.
Other advantages of a smart meter apart from letting you know how much electricity you consume per time on demand include the following:-
- Exact reading of your electricity consumption on your bill.
- You can access your energy consumption anywhere you are and at any time with a synched device.
- It gives you measurement you can trust.
The essence of the above information is to help you control the usage of your home appliances for more efficiency and also choose the most energy efficient models if the ones you have are not energy efficient.
When shopping for new appliances, ensure that you look out for those that have the energy star badge. This badge ascertains that the model you want to buy is energy efficient.
How to Conserve Energy and Save Money on Electricity Bills
In this day and age, there are several amenities and appliances that one cannot do without. Oftentimes when people hear of conserving energy, they immediately think they are being called upon to forego some creature comforts or make some huge sacrifices. However, it is by far simpler than that; all you need is some change of habits and replacements of some household appliances and fixtures.
That being said, we will share some tips on how to conserve power and at the same time save money on utility bills. These tips are as follows:-
Change your Light Bulbs
This is the first place to start out especially for those whose homes are old or still use incandescent bulbs. Go shopping for LED bulbs that carry the government approved symbol; the Energy Star. These bulbs consume less than 90% of power compared to the traditional luminous light bulbs.
Bear in mind that the initial purchase price of these bulbs is higher than for the traditional ones. however, they last way longer than them and save you a lot of money in the long run thanks to their energy efficiency.
Use Advanced Power Strips
These are also known as smart power strips and they are used to turn off appliances at a given time or when they are not in use. They can be used for this purpose through remote switches or a master device. They are very useful for curbing the issue of phantom energy.
Phantom energy is power used by appliances when they are on standby mode or turned off. In some quarters, this energy is referred to as vampire or standby energy. It has been discovered that this energy makes up about 5 -10% of power consumption in a household and can cost an average home up to $100 annually. Smart power strips shut off electricity to the electronics connected to them when these devices are not in use thus saving you that $100.
Switch to Energy Efficient HVAC system
A HVAC system is made up of the heating ventilation and air conditioning appliances in a home or building. If any of these pieces of equipment is old and not energy efficient, you can rest assured that it will affect your electricity bill negatively. It is in your best interest to upgrade these appliances to Energy Star-Certified models so that you can cut down your power consumption and in effect your bills.
Install a Smart or Programmable Thermostat
In case you are not yet ready to upgrade your HVAC system, you can install smart thermostats. These can help to reduce the power used for cooling and heating up your spaces. A smart thermostat automatically turns off or reduces the cold or heat in a space when the occupant is asleep or not at home. This can be gotten in different models that fit individual schedules.
With this apparatus, you can get to save as much as 8% of the bills incurred by the HVAC system. There are models that even recommend when to upgrade your system for more savings.
Other things that you can do to conserve energy and save money include the following:-
- Buy energy efficient household appliances
- Control your use of water heaters
- Upgrade your home insulation
- Weatherize your home
- Conduct an energy audit on your home
We have taken time to explain the concept of kilowatt hours but this information would do you no good if you do not utilize it to adjust your daily habits. The first step is understanding the concept which this article has helped you with (hopefully). We have also shared tips on how you can conserve energy and save money on electricity bills. So go head and make the necessary adjustment for your own good.