Electricity may seem to be a magical force at times. Wires bring electricity into your home via the walls.
You’ve accomplished your goal when you flick a switch or push a button, the lights come on, the T.V. or the coffee maker starts. So how does it all come together?
An explanation of how electricity works are provided in the following article, starting with the watts required to power your lightbulbs and progressing through the kilowatt-hours of electric power used, which your utility logs on your monthly electric bill.
According to the Energy Information Administration, a U.S. residential customer’s average annual electricity consumption was 10,649 kilowatt hours (kWh). Louisiana had the highest power consumption clocking at 14,787 kilowatt hours (kwh) per residential customer, while Hawaii had the lowest, 6,296 kilowatt hours (kWh) per residential customer.
What’s a Kilowatt?
A kilowatt (kW) is a unit of measurement for electrical power. Consider the concept of power as “the capacity to do labor.” According to technical definitions, “watt” refers to the measurement of energy transfer equal to one joule per second. Still, because no one outside of a laboratory has used the term “joule” since high school physics class, we’ll stay with “kilowatt.”
Regarding electricity, power is equal to the product of voltage times amperage. Alternatively, one watt (kW)= one volt (V) multiplied by one ampere (A).
When it comes to electricity, it’s helpful to conceive of it as being similar to water. Voltage is the pushing force, or the pressure, while amperage is the flow of information. When it comes to electricity, amperage is also referred to as current.
How electricity is like water
Consider a hose with a spray nozzle attached to one end. Consider the following scenario: the nozzle has three settings: off, low, and high. The water pressure behind the nozzle remains constant, analogous to voltage. When the switch is turned off, there is no flow and thus no electricity.
Turn the nozzle to the “low” setting, and you’ll have power! Your current has been boosted, and water is now streaming. The flow rate is calculated in gallons per minute, and to back to our metaphor, the flow rate would be referred to as the “wattage.”
Turn the nozzle to the highest setting to raise the amperage again, and you’ll have more power or “wattage.”
Measuring the flow of power
Continuing with the water metaphor, the amount of water emitted measures the amount of power. For 10 minutes, direct the hose into a bucket, and the bucket will be filled. The water poured into the bucket may be considered a measure of the energy that went through the hose and into the container.
The lightbulb is one of the most frequent ways humans engage with watts and kilowatts. Assume that a 100-watt light bulb requires that much electricity to illuminate. Leaving a 100-watt bulb on for an hour consumes 100-watt-hours of electrical energy.
One kilowatt hour is calculated as 1 kWh = 1 kW x 1 hr.
One of the reasons why switching to low-wattage light bulbs may have such a significant effect is this. An LED bulb that can provide the same light as a 100-watt incandescent bulb consumes just 14 watts. That implies you can run ten 14-watt LEDs for 7.25 hours and consume the same amount of total energy that ten incandescent bulbs use in an hour, saving you money on electricity costs.
Watts, Kilowatts, and Kilowatt-hours: power vs. energy
Once again, a watt is a unit of measurement for power or the capacity to do work. A watt-hour is a unit of measurement for energy, which refers to the quantity of work performed over a given period (in this case, one hour).
A thousand watts is equal to one kilowatt, and a kilowatt-hour is a record that represents the average production of a thousand watts over an hour.
Consider the example of a marathon runner when considering power and energy. Power may be considered the capacity to run at a particular speed, with the distance covered by the runner representing the energy used.
Almost precisely 2 hours and 30 minutes were required by the fastest runner on the planet to complete the event in 2019. That implies he used enough energy to maintain a constant running speed of about 13.1 miles per hour, with the 26.2 miles of the marathon serving as the yardstick for how much power he expended.
According to our calculations, the runner’s constant power production was about 300 watts, resulting in a total energy expenditure of 600 watts-hours over the 26.2-mile race. According to the formula, if he maintained the same power production for 5 hours, his overall energy output would be 1,500 watt-hours or 1.5-kilowatt hours.
kW and kWh on your electricity bill
As your energy consumption in your house increases throughout the day, a meter spins (or digitally counts up) to track how much electricity you use at all times. At the end of the month, this measurement adds up to a certain amount of kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy consumption. When your bill comes due, the business “reads” your meter and records the total energy you’ve used for the month. Their clever (and often very complex) calculations are then used, after which they will charge you at a specific rate of cents per kWh used.
Given a monthly electricity use of 1,000 kWh at $0.15/kWh, your bill would be $150.00, plus any extra connection and service fees.
Average Cost of a Kilowatt Hour?
The national average energy cost of a kilowatt hour varies across the United States. This is primarily because, as electricity providers or utility companies, prices differ depending on several factors. Some of these factors depend on the source of power generation and whether the utility grid is regulated or deregulated. Deregulated electric company prices are sometimes lower than regulated utility companies, but that is not necessarily the case.
In Illinois, the average cost of electricity is around 12.3 cents per kWh as of February 2021. This means that with typical American usage at about 877 kWh per month, the average monthly electricity bill in the U.S. is $114.44. There are Transmission Delivery Charges or TDU Charges that your electric utility requires delivery fees for everyone who gets electricity distributed to their home.
Can I Calculate my Total Electrical Consumption?
Yes, you can calculate the total electrical consumption without an expert, and there are a few ways to do it. The three main things needed to assess are how many kWh of electricity you use for every significant electrical appliance, i.e., the device wattage, device usage, and daily usage.
Let’s take the coffee maker as an example.
The Coffee Maker uses 1200 Watts and a daily average of 3 hrs. per day. This will give you the number of watt-hours consumed each day.
- 1200 W × 3hr = 3600 Wh
But in reality, we need to convert Watt hours (Wh) to Kilowatt hours (kWh). One kilowatt equals 1000 watts, so to calculate how many kWh a device uses, divide the watt-hours by 1000, and you get your watts/hr.
- 3600 Wh / 1000 = 3.6 kWh
- 3.6 kwh x 30 = 108 kwh
Add all the kilowatt hours (kwh) for individual devices, and you will get the total kwh of all devices per month. This way, you can determine how many kilowatt hours (kWh) are used. This would be Energy usage of your entire house.
How solar panels reduce your energy costs
Solar panels provide electricity that may be used to power your most critical household equipment like air conditioner, and dishwasher, and other electrical appliances and electronic gadgets because solar energy replaces electricity that would have otherwise been purchased from a utility provider that helps you save money on your energy bill.
Solar panels generate electricity when photons of light stimulate electrons in one layer of the panel’s surface, generating electricity. That group of excited electrons is drawn to the opposite layer of the board, and they will pass via a conductive wire to reach the other side. Thus, solar energy may power your house by redirecting the electricity flowing via your home’s cables.
Every solar panel is certified to transform a specific amount of photons to electrons when exposed to direct sunlight, i.e., to produce a particular number of kilowatts. In today’s world, a solar panel’s average peak power output is about 340 watts. Therefore, a typical solar energy system for a house requires approximately 18 panels, with a total rated output of around 6 kilowatts (kW).
Suppose you reside in a region with an average of 5 peak solar hours daily. On an ordinary day, your 6 kilowatts (kW) solar system should be able to produce about 30 kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy. Assuming that most days are not typical, your system’s output is more likely to produce more or less energy on any day, but it would still make about 10,950-kilowatt hours (kWh) per year (365 days multiplied by 30 kWh/day).
So, when you’re ready to buy that solar energy system, check out the kW and kWh production of such a system and make some energy-saving adjustments, like using LED bulbs, and you’ll be on your way to saving some kilowatts and dollars.