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Average UK gas and electricity prices per kWh unit

Average UK gas and electricity prices per kWh unit

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Last updated: 04 April 2022

There are a variety of costs involved in making up your annual energy bill, including location, property type and number of inhabitants. For this reason, comparing your energy bill with the national average, which for the record is around £1138 per year, can be something of a red herring when it comes to energy comparison.
 
Instead, another method of assessing your energy bills is to compare your electricity and gas prices per unit to their national or local averages. This way you can exclude the variables which are specific to your property and focus on the actual value of the energy you're consuming. 
 
To break down electricity and gas prices by unit, we need to understand a little about how your bill is made up.

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Unit rates and standing charges explained

When you disregard the other parts of your energy bill, the actual price you pay for gas and electricity is broken into two parts:

Standing charge

This is a fixed amount that you are charged each day, regardless of your energy usage. So whether it's a day with no usage at all, or a day of heavy usage, you'll be charged the same standing charge.

Unit rate

This is the price you pay per unit of energy you use per day. The amount paid for this part will vary entirely based on your energy consumption.

The unit rate for both gas and electricity prices UK wide are measured in kWh (kilowatt hours). The actual rate you will pay can vary based on your region and pricing plan, but the national average for electricity is 14.37p per kWh. The average for gas is significantly less at 3.80p per kWh.

Cheap energy deals will often offer a fairly cheap unit rate, but the standing charge also needs to be factored into the value of any potential tariff.

What is a kWh?

A kilowatt hour, the basic unit of energy usage, is calculated as 1 kW (1000w) of energy being used consistently for 1 hour. Almost all household electrical items have their wattage listed somewhere on the product or packaging. You can calculate from this wattage, for example around 900w on a standard microwave, how many kWh that appliance would use if it were to run for an hour straight (0.9 kWh in this case).

Average gas unit rates and fixed costs in 2021

According to government figures for 2021, the average unit price per kWh for gas was 3.52p per kWh. The average fixed costs associated with gas, including standing charges, was £96.32 per year. The regional breakdown was as follows:

Gas unit rates (per kWh) & fixed costs (per year) UK

Region Average gas rates (per kWh) Average fixed costs (per year)
East Midlands 3.39p £95.79
Eastern England 3.48p £97.44
London 3.67p £101.53
Merseyside & North Wales 3.55p £94.98
North East England 3.37p £92.63
North Scotland 3.55p £100.25
North West England 3.48p £94.43
South East England 3.54p £96.11
South Scotland 3.54p £97.01
South Wales 3.59p £96.49
South West England 3.65p £95.73
Southern England 3.68p £96.58
West Midlands 3.51p £96.81
Yorkshire 3.40p £94.43

Average gas rates per kWh are based on assumed annual consumption of 13,600kWh. 

Please note: These are the latest government figures available from 2021, but since then Ofgem has raised the energy price cap so real average prices will currently be higher. Based on our calculations, the average price of gas after the price cap hike on 1st April 2022, is between 7-8p per kWh. Meanwhile, the average daily standing charge for gas is between 27-28p per day, or £100-£102 per year.

We have put together a useful guide on comparing gas prices to help you get the best deal in your area.

Average electricity unit rates per kWh and fixed costs in 2021

According to government figures, one unit of electricity in the UK costs an average of 18.9p per kWh. Meanwhile, the average fixed costs (blanket term for energy charges that don't change with consumption, including standing charges) for electricity in 2021 were £84.66 per year

These costs vary depending on the region you live in:

Electricity prices UK per kWh:

Region Average electricity rates (per kWh) Average fixed costs (per year)
East Midlands 18.4p £82.91
Eastern England 18.8p £87.15
London 18.9p £88.00
Merseyside & North Wales 20.2p £81.65
North East England 18.4p £90.00
North Scotland 19.3p £99.28
North West England 18.4p £83.06
Northern Ireland 19.6p £5.50
South East England 19.5p £85.63
South Scotland 18.8p £86.73
South Wales 19.5p £87.21
South West England 19.5p £89.77
Southern England 18.8p £85.30
West Midlands 18.6p £88.45
Yorkshire 18.2p £92.36

Average electricity rates per kWh are based on assumed annual consumption of 3,600kWh. 

Please note: These are the latest government figures available from 2021, but since then Ofgem has raised the energy price cap so real average prices will currently be higher. Based on our calculations, the average price of electricity after the price cap hike on 1st April 2022, is between 28-29p per kWh. Meanwhile, the average daily standing charge for electricity is between 45-46p per day, or £164-168 per year.

Comparing electricity prices per kWh

When looking to reduce your energy bills, looking at electricity or gas prices per kWh can be a useful tool in calculating the true value of a tariff. However, other factors must be taken into account based on the usage of your property.

For example, a holiday home that's only occupied for two months of the year will not benefit from a tariff which offers a low unit rate per kWh but has a high standing charge, as a lot of the energy bill will be spent on standing charges for days the property is not occupied. Likewise, a property with mixed occupancy which uses a large amount of energy will not benefit from a tariff that offers reduced or no standing charge in exchange for a higher unit rate.

For these reasons the practical solution is to use an energy comparison tool like ours to compare available energy tariffs based on your specific usage requirements or to ensure you visit each individual energy suppliers website for a direct quote.

 

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Michael Quinn

Author: Michael Quinn

Michael is a dedicated author helping usave to write guides, blogs and news for the last four years. When not writing articles, you can usually find him at wine tasting events or having a political debate on the night tube.

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