How Much Does Electricity Cost?

In order to find out how much electricity costs, it is important to understand how it is measured. When buying electricity, you are charged by the kilowatt-hour (kWh). Appliances, lightbulbs, and other items have their own wattage, which can affect the overall costs of electricity.

Cost of Electricity

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average cost of residential electricity in the United States was reported as 11.9¢/kWh in April 2009, ranging from in North Dakota to 26¢ in Hawaii [1]. However, it is important to note that electricity costs are charged tiered rates – meaning the more electricity you use, the higher your bill will be. Many energy companies also charge various fees for “delivery” of electricity.

Calculating Kilowatt Hours

When 1,000 watts is used for 1 hour, you have reached a kilowatt-hour. For example, a lightbulb with wattage of 100 used for 730 hours in one month translates into 73 kWh. You can manually calculate the number of kilowatt-hours associated with an appliance or object by taking the wattage of the device, multiplying it by the number of hours used, and then dividing by 1000. If math isn’t your strongest point, Michael Blue Jay (also known as Mr. Electricity) offers a convenient calculator [2] for pinpointing kilowatt-hours.

To measure accurate results of electricity cost, take a look at your own electric bill to locate the actual kWh rate. Your bill may also show multiple kWh rates (such as one for “delivery” and one for “electricity use”). Add all of the rates together to reach a total kWh rate.




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