Cost of electricity per kWh
Energy providers in the UK charge households for their energy usage in units known as kilowatt hours (kWh). Energy providers set their own rates per kWh and these rates depend on many factors, including where you live and what tariff you are on. Standard electricity rates in the UK can range from around 9-17p per kWh. For example some SSE Southern electric rates are currently 9.43p per kWh, Npower offers 11.62p per kWh and British Gas offer 12.62p per kWh on their fixed plans.
There are other things to consider when choosing an energy provider such as whether the plan is set at a fixed or variable rate. You must also consider the standing charge, which is the rate that all energy companies charge every day regardless of your energy usage.
What is a kWh
The above section showed how energy companies use kWh as a unit to measure energy usage and charge for it. But what is a kWh exactly?
A kWh is when 1000 watts of energy are used for one hour. You can find the wattage of any household appliance on its packaging or label. If you would like to know how many kWhs you have spent running a device then you can multiply the wattage by the number of hours used and divide by 1000. This is the amount of kWhs used. For example, if an appliance, such as a computer, is 100w and you use it for 10 hours then you would have spent 1kWh running that device (100x10=1000, 1000÷1000=1).
It is easy to then work out how much it costs to run any household device by multiplying the kWhs used by your energy provider’s rate per kWh. If you wanted to know how much it costs to run a 700W washing machine for a 1 1/2 hour cycle on Npower’s current fixed rate tariff (11.62p) you would use the following formula:
Wattage x hours used ÷ 1000 x kWh rate= cost of running appliance
700 x 1.5 ÷ 1000 x 11.62 = 12.2p
UK electricity per kWh
The Energy Savings Trust calculates the UK national average price per kWh for electricity as 14.05p. That rate may change significantly dependant on your provider and your location.
Geographical area has an impact on energy prices due to how much demand is in that area and how easy it is for companies to supply energy through National Grid services. As an example SSE Southern Electric charge 13.37p per kWh on a fixed rate tariff for a house in Birmingham. The exact same tariff will cost 13.58p per kWh for a house in Surrey but if you live in Edinburgh you will only have to pay 13.02p per kWh!
For some people an Economy 7 plan will save a lot of money. Economy 7 plans have one kWh rate for energy used in the day time and a cheaper rate for overnight use. Therefore, if you can run appliances or heat a storage tank of water overnight, you will pay considerably less. As an example, e.on currently offer an economy 7 plan which charges 17.74p per kWh of electricity used in the daytime and only 6.88 p per kWh used overnight.
Compare gas and electricity prices per kWh
Generally in the UK electricity is a lot more expensive that gas per kWh. Using the SSE Southern Electric figures for Surrey from before, there is quite a vast difference between the 13.58p per kWh fixed rate for electricity and the 4.38p per kWh offered for gas on the same tariff. It is nearly always cheaper to heat your house with gas rather than electricity.
For some people gas is not an option. However, you need not fear that you have to pay substantially more than gas users to heat your home. If you only have access to electricity you should consider some smart money saving options. Most importantly you should consider an economy 7 tariff. Keeping with the SSE example above, you would only pay 7.72p per kWh for your overnight electricity. You can use this night rate to give your home heat and hot water for the following day if you have an efficient storage system.
Looking at the figures of current energy prices in the UK can be disheartening! That’s why so many people are turning to solar panels to help generate their energy and avoid paying these high rates. An average 4kW solar panel system can offer up to 3,400kWh of electricity annually. A family with 2 children will use around 4,000-5,500kWhs per year. This means that if the average family home installed solar panels, they would be able to produce a huge chunk of their electricity themselves. They would also save even more money by being paid for the electricity they produce through the Feed-in Tariff.