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Last updated: 02 July 2021
Well, all those actions add up on your electricity bill. But good news - it’s now easier than ever to calculate how much your electricity really costs and, if you want to save money, we advise you do.
How much does electricity cost?
Electricity is measured in kilowatts. By extension, a kilowatt hour (kwh) is how much electricity an appliance would use if it was turned on for one hour. It is this measurement, the kilowatt hour, which is what your electricity prices are based on.
As you might expect, suppliers offer different electricity rates – its how they stay competitive. Other factors such as where you live and how much you consume play apart in what your units cost – that is, price per kwh. As such, there isn’t a fixed price of electricity though as a benchmark, UK Power state the average price in the UK is 14.4p per kwh.
How are my energy bills calculated?
In short, energy bills are calculated based on your consumption of energy: you pay a rate for every unit of energy you consume.
When you move into a property, you’ll take a meter reading which is passed on to your energy provider. This ensures you don’t end up paying the previous inhabitant’s bill! From then on, you’ll take monthly meter readings which show your energy consumption; this allows your supplier to work out how much you owe. Alternatively, if you have a smart meter this’ll be done automatically.
On top of your unit rate you also need to pay a standing charge. This is a daily fee you pay in order to be connected to an energy supply, usually the National Grid. In addition, your energy bill may have charges like operational or administrative costs, or reductions from environmental schemes or credit. Of course, you’ll pay VAT too.
Your bill should have a clear breakdown of what you’re paying for. If it doesn’t, contact your provider.
What affects the price of electricity?
The price of electricity in the UK is determined by a range of factors. In terms of wholesale costs (which is what your energy supplier pay for the energy), prices can be influenced by any number of the following:
- Supply and demand – costs rise when supply is lower
- Politics – political factors can drive the cost of fuels used to generate electricity
- Transport costs
- Infrastructure costs
- The weather – lack of sun or wind impacts the productivity of these renewable sources, for example.
What you pay for your electricity is impacted both by these external factors and what tariff you have. Whether you’re on a fixed-rate or variable tariff will determine your electricity bills, as will simply getting a good energy deal in the first place. That’s why we recommend you run an energy comparison to be sure you don’t pay over the odds.
How much electricity do my appliances use?
How much electricity your appliance uses depends on their wattage and efficiency, among other variables such as what time in the day you use them. Most new models are far superior in terms of energy efficiency, meaning they’ll use less electricity than older ones.
One simple way to find out your usage is through an appliance electricity calculator; you can find these online. It’s particularly helpful if you know the exact wattage, which will be stated in your appliance handbook, however if you don’t you can still see average figures for wattage and unit rate. And just for fun, we’ll give you some average electricity consumption figures here for reference:
- Kettle: 1,800 watts; 1.8kwh
- TV: 30 watts; 0.12kwh
- Washing machine: 700 watts; 0.7kwh
- Phone charger: 5 watts; 0.005kwh
- Tumble dryer: 3,000 watts; 3kwh.
- Toaster: 1,200 watts; 1.2 kwh
This is then multiplied by your unit rate to arrive at your electricity bill. So, you may want to think twice before popping your washing in the dryer – if it’s not raining out, let nature do its thing!
How to cut electricity costs
There are a few sure-fire ways to cut back on your electricity costs.
First, switch off appliances when you’re not using them. You’d be surprised by how much energy leaving devices on standby uses. In the same vein, be cautious of your consumption; only boil as much water as you need, not an entire kettle for one cuppa – that’s just a waste! You could also replace old appliances with energy-efficient ones; the same goes for lightbulbs. We promise you’ll notice the difference.
Consider investing in a smart meter too, which all providers are obligated to try and offer. These awesome devices make saving money on your electricity bills effortless by providing real-time updates of your usage.
And finally, when your tariff is coming to an end, switch suppliers. Sticking with your current provider means you’ll get put on a considerably less competitive rate and your electricity costs will soar. Instead, compare energy deals with usave to find a new supplier and stay one step ahead when it comes to electricity prices.