What is a kilowatt hour? Your questions answered

What is a kilowatt hour?

If you’ve looked at your energy bill lately, you’ve probably come across the term ‘kilowatt hour’. It’s a confusing piece of jargon that trips may people up. In this article, we’ll explain what a kilowatt hour is and answer some other common questions.

What is a kilowatt hour?

Put very simply, a kilowatt hour (or kWh) is a unit of energy. Much like you pay for petrol by the litre or phone calls by the minute, you pay for gas and electricity by the kilowatt hour.

electricity meter
A meter displaying electricity use in kWh. Image source.

When you’re shopping around for gas & electricity, suppliers have to quote their prices in pence per kilowatt hour (Ofgem says so). This makes it easier to compare prices and find a good deal.

For those interested in the technical definition, here it is:

1 kilowatt hour is the amount of energy a 1kW device would use if it was run for one hour – approximately 3.6 megajoules.

For example, a 1 kW heater left running for 1 hour would consume 1 kWh (or 1 unit) of energy.

What is the cost per kilowatt hour?

There isn’t a standard price – it depends on both your energy supplier and the tariff you are currently signed up to.

Unit prices for electricity can range from around 12-18 pence per kWh. Gas is around 3-4 pence per kWh.

Note that you also pay a standing charge with most energy tariffs – you can find more information about standing charges here.

What’s the difference between a kilowatt and a kilowatt hour?

A kilowatt is a unit of power. The kilowatt (kW) rating of an appliance describes how quickly it uses energy.

A kilowatt hour is a unit of energy. It describes an amount of energy consumed.

Put it this way – if kilowatt was like the speed of a car, a kilowatt hour would be how far it has travelled.

How do I find out how many kWh I use?

Find out my kilowatt hour use

If you are shopping around for a new energy supplier, it’s useful to know how many kWh your home uses in a month. You can get this information from your current provider – either by looking at a paper bill or by checking your online account.

If you can’t find your exact usage, you can still compare prices using something called Typical Domestic Consumption Values – or TDCVs.

TDCVs are calculated by Ofgem using data from typical households, as shown below:

Fuel Usage kWh (annual)
Gas Low 8,000
Medium 12,000
High 17,000
Electricity Low 1,900
Medium 3,100
High 4,600

Source: Ofgem

For example, a small family living in a 3-bedroom house would probably be classed as a ‘medium use’ home. They could expect to use around 12,000 kWh of gas and 3,100 kWh of electricity in a year.

How do I reduce my energy consumption?

Concerned that your kWh use is too high and costing too much? There are two things you can do:

  1. Claim a free smart meter – this will help you monitor your energy use and take control of your spending.
  2. Switch to a cheaper energy supplier. Eversmart Energy offer some of the best value energy tariffs on the market. You can enter you details and get a quote in under two minutes here.

UK wind power hits 20 GW milestone

Walney Extension

The United Kingdom has his a historic wind energy milestone, reaching a total installed capacity of 20 gigawatts. The opening of the Walney Extension off the coast of Cumbria earlier this month tipped the total over the 20 GW mark.

  • Wind power is the biggest source of renewable energy in the UK, with the total capacity now standing at 20,128 MW – or just over 2 GW
  • The country’s first commercial onshore windfarm went operational in 1991 in Delabole, Cornwall
  • The first commercial offshore windfarm started generating in 2000, off the coast of Blyth in Northumberland
  • Total capacity was just 1GW in 2005 and 5GW in 2010, before rapidly expanding to 10GW in 2013

According to the trade body RenewableUK, wind power has enough capacity to meet the needs of 14 million homes.

“Phenomenal growth”

Commenting on the announcement, RenewableUK’s Executive Director Emma Pinchbeck said:

“It took 19 years to install the first 5GW of wind energy in the UK and we’ve now installed the same amount in under two years. That phenomenal growth shows just how quickly the UK is moving to a smart, low carbon power system and wind energy is at the heart of that.”

“Over half of the UK’s wind energy capacity is onshore, which is the cheapest option for new power. However, Government policy preventing onshore wind from competing for new power contracts means that consumers will miss out on low-cost power that will keep bills down.”

“It was the opening of the world’s largest offshore wind farm that has took us over the 20GW mark. We’re confident that offshore wind alone can reach at least 30GW by 2030 to become the backbone of a clean, reliable and affordable energy system.”

Experts predict that total offshore wind power alone could hit the 30 GW mark by 2030.

 

Image source: Ørsted

How to save water around the home

saving water

Did you know that the average household in England & Wales spends almost £400 a year on water bills? Or that around 15% of a typical household energy bill goes towards heating water? There are significant savings to be made if you can control your water use – read on to find out how…

Reducing water use

Use a water efficient showerhead

‘Low flow’ showerheads can make it feel like water is coming out faster and with more power than it really is. This will reduce the amount of water used per shower, saving you money on your water and energy bills.

Note that low flow showerheads shouldn’t be fitted on electric showers.

Buy water efficient appliances

Next time you’re shopping for a new washing machine or dishwasher, look out for the Water Efficient Product Label. Buying an efficient appliance model can lead to big savings.

unified water label
The new Unified Water Label. Image source: europeanwaterlabel.eu

Turn off the taps

A running tap goes through around 6 litres of water per minute! Don’t leave the tap running while brushing your teeth, shaving or washing the dishes.

Use a reduced capacity bath

Next time you remodel your bathroom, think about fitting a low-capacity bath. These specially designed bathtubs require less water to fill while still feeling just as comfortable.

It goes without saying that showers are much more water-efficient than baths, but if you are more of a bath person then a reduced capacity bath could be the way to go!

Fix that dripping tap

A dripping tap is more than just a nuisance – it can sneakily waste water and add to your energy bill.

Re-use water

Why use tap water to fill up your watering can, when you could use collected rainwater from a water butt instead?

Saving hot water

Insulate your hot water cylinder and pipes

If your home has a hot water cylinder (it may not if you have a combi-boiler), putting a well-fitting insulation jacket around it could save you around £20 a year – or even more if you have an expensive immersion heater. Insulating your pipes will also help save money & energy.

Use your heating controls

Don’t waste money heating water when you don’t need it. Instead, take the time to familiarise yourself with your heating controls and timers.

Upgrade your boiler

If you have an older gas boiler, it may be time to upgrade it to a modern, energy efficient model. The Energy Saving Trust estimates that you could save anywhere from £55-£200 per year by upgrading.

New boilers aren’t cheap, but there may be government schemes & grants available in your area.

 

That’s our list of water saving tips. If you have any more ideas, let us know in the comments section!

 

Sources

World’s most powerful offshore wind farm officially opens off Aberdeen coast

EOWDC

The European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) was officially opened this week by Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. The 11 turbine system was developed by the Swedish company Vattenfall, and is said to be the most powerful in the world.

Scotland is already home to several onshore and offshore windfarms, and despite its relatively small size the country is a world leader when it comes to renewable energy.

The new development has a total generating capacity of 93.2 MW – enough to supply around 70% of the domestic energy demand in nearby Aberdeen, or the equivalent of 80,000 homes.

The project was briefly in the international spotlight back in 2015 when Donald Trump, then a US presidential candidate, attempted to block planning permission for the site claiming it would spoil the view from his Aberdeenshire golf course.

“Groundbreaking Project”

Nicola Sturgeon was joined by over 100 business leaders and dignitaries for the opening ceremony, held on board a NorthLink Ferry in the North Sea.

EOWDC
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was joined by Vatennfall CEO & President Magnus Hall for the opening ceremony.

Ms Sturgeon said: “I am proud that as part of this groundbreaking project, the world’s most powerful offshore wind turbines are now up and running in Scotland.”

“The European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre will maintain Scotland’s reputation for innovation in low-carbon and renewable energy development and deployment.”

“A single rotation of one of these 8.8mw turbines will generate enough energy to power a home for 24 hours, which truly shows the potential of this technology to strengthen Scotland’s renewable energy-generating capacity in the future.”

The site began producing power in July, ahead of the official opening in September.

The ‘O-Wind’ Turbine wins UK Dyson Award

O-Wind

The groundbreaking design can capture wind energy from any direction – including vertically. The creators of the O-Wind hope that the compact design will be effective in urban areas where traditional turbines can’t be used.

Conventional wind turbines can only really capture wind coming from a single direction. Due to this and their large size, they are better suited to wide open spaces where winds are predictable.

The O-Wind by contrast is a mere 25cm wide and can capture wind energy in all 3 dimensions, allowing it to take advantage of the abundant winds found in cities. No matter which direction the wind approaches from, the ball will always rotate the same way, driving a generator and producing electricity.

O-Wind was developed by Nicolas Orellana and Yaseen Noorani, who are both MSc students at Lancaster University. They believe that the concept is at least five years away from commercial production, but it could revolutionise the energy industry once it gets there. The design is a National Winner of the prestigious James Dyson Award.

Inspiration from NASA

Long before the O-Wind came to be, the team behind it were interested in using wind-driven balls to explore Mars. A prototype model was able to harness unpredictable winds and use the energy to travel forwards in a straight line. In a test it managed to travel 7km across the Atacama Desert in South America.

It soon became clear that the technology could have multiple uses, and the potential for generating clean energy was explored.

Future Plans

Lancaster University are busy testing, optimising and refining the O-Wind to maximise its efficiency. They hope that the technology could be used to power apartments, motorhomes, boats and other stand-alone structures. They are also exploring the possibility of using the O-Wind to capture wave & tidal energy.

When can you switch energy suppliers without paying a penalty?

exit fees

If you try to switch energy suppliers before your contract is up, you could end up paying a penalty for leaving early – also known as an exit fee. Some energy suppliers can charge up to a whopping £75 per fuel! Read on to find out how to avoid getting stung.

Don’t let the fear of paying a fee stop you from getting a better deal!

Find out which type of tariff you are on

Exit fees usually only apply to fixed-term tariffs. These tariffs have a fixed price and a set end date.

Standard variable tariffs do not have exit fees, which means you are free to switch whenever you like without having to pay a penalty.

If you’re not sure which type of tariff you are on:

  • Look at a recent bill or email from your supplier
  • Log in to your online account
  • Call your energy supplier and ask

Check when your tariff is due to end

Your energy supplier cannot charge you an exit fee during the last 49 days of your contract. If you have less than 49 days left, you can go ahead and switch without being penalised.

Your supplier should write to you within the final 42-49 days to let you know your tariff is coming to an end.

Do the maths

Even if you do have to pay an exit fee, it might be worth it in the long run if the money you save by switching out-weighs the penalty.

You will need to check with your current supplier to find out what you will be charged. The table below shows the exit fees for some of the bigger energy companies:

Supplier Exit Fee
British Gas £30–£40 per fuel
Npower £20–£50 per fuel
E.ON £30–£75 per fuel
EDF £10–£40 per fuel
SSE £25 per fuel
Scottish Power £30 per fuel
Eversmart Energy No exit fees!

What if I stay with the same supplier?

If you let your tariff end without switching, your supplier should automatically move you onto their cheapest standard tariff. Ofgem rules state that they can’t put you on a fixed-term tariff with a termination fee.

It is very unlikely that you would have to pay an exit fee if you change tariffs but stay with the same supplier.

In summary:

  • You do not have to pay exit fees if you are on a standard variable tariff
  • You do not have to pay exit fees if your tariff ends in the next 49 days

Ready to switch?

If you are currently with one of the ‘big 6’ suppliers, you could save up to £400 per year by switching to Eversmart. Get started here.

 

The information in this article was correct at the time of publishing.

Sources

What’s it like working for Eversmart?

Eversmart

Thinking about a career with Eversmart? Read on to find out what it’s like to work for us…

We believe that people thrive and do their best work when they’re supported, trusted and given a positive environment to work in. There’s no office politics here – we’re all on the same team with the same goals.

Here’s what you can expect from working at Eversmart:

Work-life balance

We don’t believe in the 9-5 routine – we do believe in a healthy work-life balance. Most of our office staff work on a flexi-time basis.

Modern work environment

Our office environment is laid back and relaxed. We don’t think this hinders productivity – we think it improves it. Staff can dress how they like, move around, listen to a little bit of music or use the breakout room – whatever it takes to help you do your best work. Visitors often tell us that there’s a nice family atmosphere at our offices – we take this as a huge compliment.

We hire with purpose

We don’t just hire staff for their skills. We look for people who are eager to learn, share our values, and want to grow as the company does. If you’ve got a good attitude and an appetite for success, you’ll fit right in.

Holidays

Each team member is entitled to 28 days paid holiday per year, including all bank holidays. For every year you work here, you gain an extra day.

Payday

We hire the best, and pay our staff fairly. Payday is on the last working day of the month. Commission and bonuses are also available for our sales staff.

Regular socials

Sometimes you just need to get out of the office and let off a little steam! We organize work social events at least once a month.

Facebook wants to run on 100% renewable power by 2020

Facebook

The technology giant has pledged to reduce its carbon footprint by 75% and move over to 100% renewable power by the end of the 2020.

Around two billion people are thought to log in to Facebook every day, along with its family of popular apps & products – including WhatsApp, Messenger, Instagram and Oculus.

Energy use

What many people don’t realise is that behind the scenes there is a huge hidden world of servers and data centres powering these apps. Every time you upload a photo, stream a video or ‘like’ a post, that information has to be stored somewhere – and all of those servers and all that infrastructure require a colossal amount of electricity to keep running around the clock.

In 2017 Facebook consumed just under 1,500 gigawatt hours of electricity – more than some small countries! As well as powering its servers, data centres eat up a lot of energy just to keep cool. And that’s before you factor in the cost of powering offices & other facilities.

Data centre
One of Facebook’s larger, custom designed data centres in Oregon, USA. Source.

Renewable energy targets

The company announced earlier this week that they would reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 75% and power their global operations with 100% renewable energy by the end of 2020. They plan to use a variety of methods to achieve this goal, such as renewable energy tariffs and direct power purchase agreements with generators. Most of the renewable electricity will come from wind and solar.

At present Facebook runs on 51% clean energy, achieving a goal they set for themselves back in 2015. In 2009 they switched from renting server space from other companies and began designing their own.

 

Top image source

Are Smart Meters Compulsory?

smart meter installation

It’s a question we get asked a lot – are smart meters compulsory? Do I have to get a smart meter? Will the government make me get one? In this article, we’ll tackle some common questions & concerns about the smart meter roll-out.

If you’re unsure what a smart meter is, or whether you already have one, we’d recommend reading this article first – What is a smart meter and how do they work?

Do I have to get a smart meter?

The short answer is no – smart meters are completely optional, and you are not obliged to get one. You can still switch to Eversmart Energy and opt-out of getting a smart meter if you wish.

Some background

In 2016 the government began the smart meter roll-out. It is their goal to put a smart meter in every home & business in the UK by 2020. Smart meters are designed to save consumers money and make the energy grid more modern & efficient.

Energy suppliers (including Eversmart Energy) are responsible for supplying & fitting smart metering equipment at no up-front cost to the consumer. Suppliers are required “to take all reasonable steps to roll out smart meters to all of their domestic and small business customers by the end of 2020”, as stated on the Ofgem website.

As a result, we offer a smart meter to every new Eversmart customer. It’s no secret that we think smart meters are great and that everybody should have one – but we won’t force you to have one installed if you don’t want it.

What does Ofgem say?

The following is taken from Ofgem’s website:

“While we and the government think that all consumers will benefit from smart meters, they aren’t compulsory and you can choose not to have one.”

“Choosing not to have a smart meter may mean you don’t have access to all the available tariffs on the market, some of which could be cheaper.”

“If you don’t want to have a smart meter now, you will still be able to have one installed for free at a later date.”

Why you should get a smart meter

Although they are not compulsory, smart meters offer a huge range of benefits. We’ve included a brief list of some of them below:

  • No more estimated bills. Your energy bills will be accurate and based on your real usage.
  • No need to submit manual meter readings to your supplier
  • You will also receive a free in-home display unit, showing your energy use & spending in near real-time
  • Smart meters are much more convenient for pre-pay customers. You can top-up remotely via app, phone or SMS

If you do opt to get a smart meter, it will be supplied & fitted for free by a qualified smart meter engineer. The installation process is fairly straightforward and is usually done in under two hours.

More information

If you have more questions about smart meters, there’s plenty more information & resources on our website:

China are building a series of solar farms shaped like giant pandas

panda solar farm

In 2017 construction work started on a 248-acre solar farm that, when viewed from above, looked like a pair of giant cartoon pandas. Now, the Chinese government are on a mission to build 99 more ‘panda power plants’ around the world – investing billions of pounds in the process.

The idea came from a Hong Kong teenager named Ada Li Yan-tung, who wanted to increase interest in renewable energy. Instead of simply lining solar panels up in neat rows, she suggested arranging them more creatively to form artwork that could be seen from the sky. An artist’s impression of her original panda concept is shown below:

Panda solar farm
An artist’s rendering of the panda solar farm

A year later, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and development company Panda Green Energy Group picked up the idea and agreed to make it a reality. The first operating solar plant recently opened in the Shanxi province of China. The 50 megawatt plant resembles two baby pandas.

Panda solar farm

Panda solar farm

The developers plan to add a second phase to the project, adding two more pandas to complete a ‘panda family’. Once complete, the solar farm will have a capacity of 100 megawatts. According to the developers, it will generate 3.2 billion kilowatt-hours over 25 years, powering more than 10,000 households per year.

Future plans

Panda Green Energy Group have an ambitious goal to build 99 more solar farms like this one, stretching across what China calls the “Belt and Road Initiative” – an infrastructure project spanning 60 countries across Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

China is the world’s largest producer and installer of photovoltaic solar panels, and has the highest installed solar capacity in the world at over 130 gigawatts.

About Eversmart Energy

Eversmart is a proudly independent UK energy supplier. We understand that people lead busy lives, so we like to do things the smart way – that means if you don’t have time to make a phone call, you can reach us by text, Facebook Messenger or social media. We believe that little things like this make a big difference.

If you make the switch to Eversmart you will also receive a free smart meter, helping you monitor your energy usage and keep your bills under control. Our goal is simple - to be the cheapest energy supplier in the UK.

You can find out more about us on our homepage - eversmartenergy.co.uk.