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A guide to kWh

uSwitch’s guide to electricity and gas price per kWh

Understanding electricity cost per kWh and gas cost per kWh is essential to grasping how energy suppliers work out your utility bills. Understanding your kWh usage is also important to help you switch energy supplier and reduce your energy costs.

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Most of us take our energy for granted. We flick the switch and expect the lights to come on, and we turn the heating on and expect the room to warm up. But understanding where our energy comes from and how it is charged can help you get a cheaper deal.

What is a kWh?

A kWh or kilowatt-hour is the name given to a unit of energy. It is typically used to determine how much energy a household has consumed over a period of time.

A kWh is the standard unit used by energy suppliers to calculate your gas and electricity bill. One unit refers to the use of 1000 Watts over one hour.

So how much is that in reality? The average low user, so someone in a small home occupied by one or two people who work full time, uses approximately 1,900 kWhs of electricity a year, and 8,000 kWhs of gas a year.

A medium user, so a small family in a three bedroom house for instance who work full time with children in school, would use 3,100 kWhs of electricity a year, and 12,000 kWhs of gas a year.

Finally a high user, so a large family of four or five occupants living in a large 4 bedroom house who spend a fair amount of time at home, would use around 4,600 kWhs of electricity a year and a whopping 17,000 kWhs of gas a year.

What’s the difference between a kW and a kWh?

Kilowatts (kW) represent a unit of power whereas a kilowatt-hour (kWh) is a unit of energy.

Put simply, kW refers to how much energy a device needs to work and kWh represent how much energy has actually been used.

A power rating, i.e. one kW, is the amount of electrical power needed for an appliance to work at any given moment. Energy is what is needed to keep the power going. So in order to keep an appliance with a power rating of one kW running for one hour, it would require one kWh of energy.

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To give you an example, imagine you have a lamp that uses a 100-Watt light bulb. Turning the bulb on for 10 hours will require one kWh (the equivalent of 1,000 watt hours).

A popular analogy to explain the concept of kW vs. kWh, is to think of your electrical device as a car. kW refer to the speed you are driving at (i.e. 50 mph) whereas kWh indicate the distance you have already covered (i.e. 25 miles) and the figure your energy company will use to work out your bill.

Cost of electricity and gas per kwh

So what can one kWh power?

Different brands and types of equipment consume varying levels of energy, but to give you an idea one kWh represents roughly:

  • A full dishwasher or washing machine cycle
  • Three hours of watching your favourite series on TV
  • Two days on your laptop
  • Boiling 10 kettles
  • Using your computer for four hours

What is the gas and electricity cost per kWh in the UK?

There is no standard price for electricity cost per kWh in the UK, which means your cost will vary from your neighbour's. Because you can switch tariffs for electricity in the UK's open energy market, that means there are plenty of options to shop around for the cheapest cost per kWh. Use an energy price comparison site like uSwitch to compare and switch to a cheaper electricity deal.

What is the average energy price or cost per kWh?

According to Energy Saving Trust, electricity cost is up to three times as expensive as gas. When calculating energy savings possible on appliances, Energy Saving Trust use an average electricity price per kWh of 13.86p per kWh.

Your actual kWh costs will depend on a variety of factors including where you live, what kind of energy plan you are on, what payment method you use (i.e., credit or prepayment) and, in some cases, what time you consumed the energy. Find your exact price per kWh using the sample bills in our guide to how to read your energy bill.

Using kWh to switch

Knowing your consumption in kWh is not just a fun fact to know; it can save you a huge amount of money. Running a comparison using your consumption or usage figures in kWh is the best way to get an accurate quote.

If you enter your consumption details in kWh we will be able to apply your usage figures to other tariff rates. Just be sure to enter your kWh details along with the accurate time-scale; either monthly, quarterly, or yearly.

However, even if you can't find your usage in kWh you can still get an accurate comparison by entering your details in spending. You can even get a comparison by estimating your usage based on the size of your house.

Switching energy is easy with uSwitch

Once you've entered your consumption details you can run a comparison and see if there are any cheaper deals available to you.

You can filter your energy comparison results according to several factors, including fixed and variable, green/renewable energy, availability of Warm Home Discount, exit fees — you can even see all plans that come with rewards and extras.

Read more…

Why pay more for the same energy?

Find and switch to a better energy deal in minutes