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You pay your electricity bill but do you know the real kWh cost?

By James Baker | Posted April 23, 2022

Here are our handy tips for understanding kWh and electricity cost per kWh. This will help you save money and energy.

Let’s start with the basics: what is a kW and what is a kWh?

A kilowatt hour (kWh) measures how much energy you use per hour, while a kW is a measure of power. kW stands for kilowatt, a universal standard for measuring electricity. So, one kilowatt equals 1,000 watts. Your electricity provider charges by how much electricity you use per kilowatt hour (kWh), depending on their electricity unit price. The kWh is a unit of energy, the number of kilowatts you use over time on different things.

The more kilowatt hours, or kWh, you use, the more you pay. So, how much does 1 kWh of electricity cost?

Energy measures how much fuel is contained within something or used by something over a specific period. Think of it like a Mars bar- the kWh is like the calories (or energy) within the bar, and the kW is how you use those calories.

You might go for a fast, high-intensity run and burn off the energy in hours, or you might loaf on the sofa binging on Netflix, stretching that energy out a bit. So, the electricity cost per kWh price you pay depends on how long you keep everything on. That’s why leaving your TV on standby or your charger plugged in still uses power and will add to the kWh cost on your energy bill (and wastes energy).

Now, let’s look at lightbulbs.

Say you have ten 100-watt light bulbs, that would equal 1kW of energy usage (10 x bulbs x 100W = 1,000W= 1 kW). To work out the kWh cost, you’d multiply that by the amount of time you need them on and the electricity cost per kWh:

1kW x 10 hours x £0.34 electricity cost per kWh = £3.40 a day

Boom! It’s that simple! Take another look at your energy bill, and you’ll see it start to make more sense.

You can apply this rule to your gas, too (it will have a different unit cost than your electricity, though).

According to the Energy Saving Trust, the national average price (as of October 2022) per pence/kWh of electricity is £0.34. This is for illustration purposes only. Your exact unit cost depends on your supplier, meter type, where you live, what tariff you're on and how you pay. 

What determines my electricity cost per kWh on my energy bill?

We supply the kW power to meet the “demand” of our customers, and demand determines the price. The price varies depending on your supplier, tariff, meter type, and region type. According to the Energy Saving Trust, the national average price for kWh in pence is £0.34. There are two main factors you can focus on when choosing your electricity and gas tariff:

  • The unit rate - in kilowatt hours (kWh) is the amount you're charged for the energy you use.
  • The standing charge – this is a flat fee charged daily whether you're using any gas or electricity or not. This pays for everything needed to get the energy to your property via the National Grid.

When comparing energy deals, check these carefully. Whilst a tariff might have a low kWh unit rate, the price of the standing charge may be high, so check before you sign up.

How much energy do you use?

How much did that morning cuppa cost you? Is it important? Yes! Here’s why it’s worth knowing what electricity price you pay per kWh and how to easily convert your electricity cost per kWh into pounds and pence.

  • How energy suppliers work out your bills
  • Why do some appliances use much more energy than others - and how much individual appliances use
  • Why you should turn appliances off at the wall to save on costs, and why you shouldn't leave them on standby

How to become an energy-saving expert in three easy steps

Now you know how much 1 kWh of electricity costs and how to convert kWh into pounds and pence. You can quickly check your home to work out your average kWh per day and find out where you can make changes to save on your energy bill.

Here are our three easy steps to help save on your energy bill and reduce your carbon footprint:

Step 1 - Put a price on it

Everything with a switch costs you money and impacts your carbon footprint size. Say you have a brand-new large-screen TV with a 500 W power rating (kW rating of 0.5) – and you want to know how much it costs to run. Multiply 0.5 by the time you spend watching it – say 4 hours a day. Your 0.5 kW TV uses 2 kWh per day.

Now, look at your energy bill. If your electricity price per kWh is £0.34, your TV will cost £0.68 per day to run (0.5kW x 4 hours x £0.34). This may not sound like a lot, but it adds up to £248.2 a year - on top of everything else you’re using.

Here are a few more examples of standard home appliances and how much they cost to run:

  • Laptop: 90 watts (0.09kW) x 10 hours a day @ £0.34 a kWh = £0.29 a day (£105.12 a year)
  • Tumble dryer: 750 watts (0.75kW) x 2 hours a day @ £0.34 a kWh= £0.51 a day (£186.15)
  • Microwave: 900 watts (0.9kW) x 1 hour a day @ £0.34 a kWh = £0.31 a day (£111.7 a year)
  • Fridge: 200 watts (0.2kW) x 24hours a day @ £0.34 a kWh = £1.63 a day (£595.68 a year)
  • Kids’ nightlight: 40 watts (0.04kW) x 14 hours a day @ £0.34 a kWh = £0.19 a day (£69.50 a year)
  • Portable air conditioning unit: 1,050 watts (1.05kW) x 6 hours a day @ £0.34 a kWh = £2.14 a day (£781.83 a year)

These examples are just a fraction of what you use in your home but highlight how you can add things up to work out your average daily kWh use.

If you've got central gas heating, you can determine how much you're spending on heating your home based on the national average kWh gas price of 10.3p.

Remember, if you hate maths, you can always get a smart meter, which shows you what you're spending and where in real-time via a handy in-home display.

Step 2 - Get in the habit today

All good habits start right here, right now. Once you know your kW from your kWh and the amount of time you use things, you can build a profile of the kind of energy user you are and where you can reign things in. Are you a heavyweight or a featherweight energy user? Where are the hotspots in your home? Do you leave laptops plugged in? TV on standby?

You’ve heard of the 5/2 diet - maybe allow yourself that extra spin on the dryer at the weekend, but dry outdoors or overnight the rest of the week. Try to take a break at tea time so you don’t have to re-boil the kettle ten times. You can also seek out energy-efficient appliances like smart lightbulbs or washing machines.

Step 3 - Go compare!

Next time you choose a tariff, you'll feel in greater control of your choices and finances. It feels good, doesn't it? If you're on an EDF tariff, you can find the exact pricing details on your tariff information label. You can also view our tariffs and compare prices.

Every little helps

By understanding how much you spend on energy and on what appliances, you will:

  • Save money: when you can work out how much your individual appliances and heating costs, you can work out ways of being more efficient. Sometimes, we need that extra dishwasher load or lovely big bubble bath, but once you know what that costs you in pounds and pence, you can be more mindful about how often you indulge.
  • Cut your carbon footprint: Once you have a deeper insight into your energy use or average kWh per day, you can see where you really need it and where you’re potentially wasting it.
  • Make better, more informed choices: When it comes to broadband, appliances, phones and TV, the amount of choice out there can be overwhelming. Energy is no different. But once you’ve grasped the basics, you can make an informed decision based on each supplier’s electricity price (and gas) per kWh and your average kWh use per day.

Hopefully, you now know your kW from your kWh. And you can make positive changes to how you use and save energy. This, in turn, will positively impact your wallet and the planet!

To learn more about saving energy and cutting your carbon, look at our energy efficiency tips.

And don't forget to check out how we’re helping Britain achieve Net Zero.