Electricity Cost per kWh: Should You Go Solar?

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Electricity usage is measured in units known as kilowatt hours (kWh)

Solar panels can slash your monthly energy bill by up to 50%

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The Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) launched on 1st January 2020 to replace the old Feed-in Tariff. Check out our guide to the SEG here to find out how much you could earn.


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What does ‘kWh’ mean?

The kilowatt hour (or kWh) is the most important bit of information on your bill from your energy provider. It lets you know how much electricity you’re using to power your home – and exactly how much you’re paying for it. But how is a kWh calculated?

You should think of a kWh as how much electricity is used over a period of time to power an electrical device. To find out how many kWhs you’ve spent running an appliance, you simply have to multiply its wattage by the number of hours you have used it for, and then divide this number by 1,000.

So, for example, if you have a 100 watt light bulb in your lounge and you turn it on for 10 hours, you’ll spend 1 kWh of electricity lighting that room. Here is how we worked this out:

(100 watts x 10 hours = 1,000) ÷ 1,000 = 1kWh

What does 1 kWh Equate to in Your Home?

Using a desktop computer for 3 hours

Ironing your clothes for 1 hour

Boiling your kettle 10 times

Watching TV for 10 hours

Having your fridge switched on for 24 hours

Playing on a games console for 3 hours

How Many kWhs Does Your Household Use?

Domestic households are divided into low-energy, medium-energy and high-energy ‘consumers’ depending on how many kWhs of electricity they use per year.

Energy Consumer
Annual Electricity Usage
Example Household
Low
2,000 kWhs
1 or 2 people in a small house or flat who work full-time, and are only at home in the evenings and weekends
Medium
3,100 kWhs
A family of 4 in a 3-bedroom house who are only at home in the evenings and weekends (e.g. the parents work full-time and the children are at school)
High
4,600 kWhs
5 students in a large 5-bedroom house who are at home during most of the day, evenings and weekends.


Electricity Prices per kWh

When calculating your bills, your energy provider will monitor how many kWhs of electricity you’re using and will multiply this figure by the price per kWh – or unit rate – agreed in your electricity tariff. This is typically between 11p and 16p per kWh of electricity.

The average cost of electricity per kWh for UK households is 14.37p*

*According to UK Power.

The tables below show you the current price per kWh of electricity charged by leading energy suppliers in the UK. These figures should only be used as guidance – the actual price you will be charged will depend on factors such as:

– your household energy usage

– where in the UK you live

– and what electricity tariff you’re on.

The ‘Big Six’ Energy Providers

Chances are you’ve probably heard of the ‘Big Six’ energy providers – they’ve dominated the energy market in the UK for years and provide electricity to over 45 million homeowners.

The table below shows you how much the Big Six charge per kWh of electricity. These prices are based on a quote for a medium energy consumer.

Electricity Provider
Price per kWh
British Gas
14.700p
EDF Energy
16.202p
E.ON
14.616p
npower
14.574p
Scottish Power
15.533p
SSE
15.580p

*Prices based on a 3-bedroom detached house in London with 2 adult occupants.

Smaller Energy Providers

In recent years there has been a huge growth in the number of smaller, independent providers hitting the UK energy market. But don’t think that just because they’re smaller they can’t offer better prices than the Big Six. In fact, the majority will offer you a cheaper unit rate, with some charging you up to 5p less per kWh of electricity.

The table below provides you with a rundown of the price per kWh of electricity quoted by smaller energy providers for a medium energy consumer.

Electricity Provider
Price per kWh
Bristol Energy
13.724p
Bulb
11.949p
Coop Energy
13.125p
Extra Energy
13.157p
Flow Energy
12.666p
First Utility
14.182p
Green Network Energy
12.758p
Green Star Energy
14.135p
ISupplyEnergy
12.833p
Octopus Energy
12.810p
OVO Energy
14.133p
PFP Energy
13.158p
Sainsbury’s Energy
14.700p
Solarplicity
13.062p
Toto Energy
13.194p

*Prices based on a 3-bedroom detached house in London with 2 adult occupants.

Did You Know?

You can save more than £400 each year, just by switching your home’s energy supplier. If you’re looking to cut down your bills, this one’s a bit of a no-brainer.

That’s why we’ve partnered with Switchd. With four different price plans (including a free option), Switchd will find you cheaper, greener energy suppliers in no time.

So how much does it cost to run your household appliances?

It’s pretty easy to work out how much it costs to run any of your household appliances. All you have to do is multiply a device’s kWh (using the formula from earlier) by your energy provider’s unit rate per kWh.

So, if you have a 500-watt DVD player which you use to watch a 1.5 hour film – maybe A Fistful of Dollars or Toy Story – and pay 14.37p per kWh of electricity, then it would cost:

(500 watts x 1.5 hours) ÷ 1,000 x 14.37p = 10.78p to use your DVD player


What about the price per kWh of electricity in the future?

The cost of electricity in the UK has been rising for many years, with some energy companies increasing their prices by as much as 10% year-on-year. Unfortunately for homeowners, it seems that this trend is set to continue into the future, with households facing ever-rising energy bills.

But why is this?

A recent report by the energy regulator Ofgem blamed the rising supply costs that energy companies are facing. An increase in the wholesale price of electricity (together with the government raising the tax on environmental and social policy legislation) means that energy providers are having to increase their prices in order to compensate for their additional outgoings.

As a result, households are being left increasingly out of pocket. But there is a way that you can avoid these rising electricity costs – by investing in renewable technology (find out more below).


Solar Electricity

Have you considered installing solar panels on your home? Looking at the current cost of electricity – together with the inevitability of further price increases in the future – it’s no wonder that so many people in the UK are investing in solar panels in order to generate their own electricity and ultimately avoid rising energy bills.

84% of homeowners we surveyed save up to 50% on their energy bills with solar panels*

*Based on a survey we conducted in January 2019 of 390 UK homeowners with solar panels.

But how much electricity do solar panels actually produce? Certainly enough to cover a large proportion of your household’s energy usage. Just take a look at the table below, which compares the annual electricity output of solar panels to the annual electricity usage of different households.

Number of Solar Panels
Typical Electricity Output
Suitable For
Typical Electricity Usage
2
850 kWh
1 adult
1,500 kWh
8
1,700 kWh
2 adults
2,000 kWh
12
2,550 kWh
Family of 4
3,100 kWh
16
3,400 kWh
Family of 5+
4,500 kWh

Solar panels don’t just allow you to save money on your electricity bills; you can also earn money through the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG), which launched on 1st January 2020. This scheme legally requires all large energy providers in the UK (i.e. companies with at least 150,000 customers) to pay households for every kWh of renewable electricity they export back to the grid, although the small suppliers are choosing to get involved too.

A handful of energy providers are offering a very reasonable rate of 5.5p/kWh, which is similar to the government’s old export tariff (part of the now-defunct Feed-in Tariff). According to the Energy Saving Trust, a household with a 4kWp solar PV system could make almost £340 each year (£244 of energy bill savings and £94 of SEG earnings).

To learn more, check out our full guide to the Smart Export Guarantee.

Other benefits of solar panels

The upfront cost has plummeted in recent years, meaning solar panels are now more affordable than ever before.

They’re low-maintenance and reliable, only needing a quick clean every now and then to keep them running efficiently.

They don’t just work in the sun – in fact, they still produce electricity in cloudy weather or even rain; great for Brits who spend half the year in endless rainfall.

They produce electricity from a renewable energy source (the sun, obviously), meaning you can reduce your household’s carbon footprint.

Solar batteries can be connected to your solar panels and allow you to store excess electricity so you can use it overnight (or in less favourable weather conditions) rather than sell it back to the National Grid. Having a solar battery further decreases your reliance on your energy provider supplying electricity to your home.

What now?

To find out more about the price of solar panels, visit our guide to solar panel costs. Alternatively, you can get started comparing quotes; simply pop your details in here, and our suppliers will get back to you.

Alex Vasili

A Dalston dweller with a green outlook on life, Alex is determined to help everyone save money on their energy bills. With the best collection of ethical hats and trainers in N1, Alex is well placed to give anyone a run for their money.