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

gas vs electric

Here are our handy tips for understanding kWh and electricity cost per kWh. This will help you save money, energy and do your bit for the environment. Tick, tick and tick!


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

A kilowatt hour (kWh) is a measure of how much energy you’re using per hour, whilst 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). 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 is a measure of how much fuel is contained within something or used by something over a specific time period. Think of it like a Mars bar- the kWh is the like calories (or energy) within the bar, the kW is how you use those calories.

You might go for a fast, high intensity run and burn off the energy in a matter of hours, or you might loaf on the sofa binging on Netflix, therefore 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 .16p electricity cost per kWh = £1.60 a day

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

Here we've taken an average national average price pence/kWh of .1636p from Energy Saving Trust and rounded it to .16p for illustration purposes.

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


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, region type. According to the Energy Saving Trust, the national average price for kWh in pence is 16.36p. There are two main factors you can focus on when choosing your electricity and gas tariff:

  • The unit rate - in kilowatt hours (kWh) and 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 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 do a quick check of 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 has an impact on 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 .16p, your TV will cost .32p per day to run (.5kW x 4 hours x .16p). This may not sound a lot but it adds up to £116.80 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, .09kW x 10 hours a day @.16p a kWh = £.14 a day (£52.56 a year)
  • Tumble dryer: 750 watts .75kW x 2 hours a day @ 16p a kWh= .27p a day (£98.55 a year)
  • Microwave: 900 watts 0.9 kWx 1 hour a day @ 16p a kWh = .11p a day (£40.18 a year)
  • Fridge: 250 watts 0.25 kW, 24hours a day @ 16p a kWh = £1.44 a day (£350.40 a year)
  • Kids’ nightlight: 40 watts 0.04kW 14 hours a day @ 16p a kWh = .60p a day (£32.70 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 kWh use per day.

If you've got gas central heating you can work out how much you're spending on heating your home, based on the national average kWh gas price of £0.04p.


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. Feels good, doesn’t it? If you're on an EDF tariff, you 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 applicances, you will:

  • Save money: when you can work out how much your individual appliances and heating costs you, you can work out ways of being more efficient. There are times 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.


We hope this gives you greater confidence both in managing your energy but also understanding how your price is calculated and how it applies to you.

Remember, if you hate maths you can always get a smart meter, which shows you what your spending and where, in pounds and pence, in real time via a handy in-home display, so you don’t have to.

Either way, now you know your kW from your kWh, you can make positive changes to the way you use and save energy. And this in turn will have a positive impact on your wallet and the planet!

To find out more about saving energy and cutting your carbon take a look at our energy efficiency tips.

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