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.

What is a standing charge? Standing charges explained

What is a standing charge?

Have you noticed that your energy tariff includes a standing charge, but you’re unsure what it means? In this article we’ll answer some of the most commonly asked questions about standing charges on your gas & electricity bills.

Standing charge definition

First things first, what is a standing charge?

Quite simply, a standing charge is the fixed cost you pay for having access to a gas and/or electricity supply.

It works a little bit like the line rental on your phone bill – you always pay it no matter what, and then you pay for individual calls on top.

The standing charge pays for things like network maintenance, meter readings, and in some cases government energy saving initiatives.

What is a typical standing charge?

It varies depending on who supplies your energy and which tariff you are on. As a very rough guide, it can range from 10p-80p per day for gas, and 5p-60p per day for electricity.

Eversmart Energy offers one of the lowest standing charges in the industry – 10.5 pence per day on most of our tariffs. You can enter your details and get a quote here.

What’s the difference between standing charge and unit rate?

Whilst the standing charge is a flat fee that stays the same from month to month, the unit rate is the cost you pay per unit of gas or electricity consumed. Going back to our phone comparison – if the standing charge is like your line rental, the unit rate is a bit like paying for individual calls.

Your unit rate is measured in pence per kilowatt-hour (p/kWh) for both gas and electricity. Again, the price per unit depends on your supplier and tariff. Together, the standing charge and the unit rate make up your energy bill.

Is there such thing as a zero standing charge tariff?

Yes. They’re not very common, but some suppliers do offer tariffs with no standing charge – including Eversmart Energy.

However… just because you don’t pay a standing charge, it doesn’t necessarily mean your bills will be cheaper.

Most people are actually better off paying a standing charge. The only people that will really benefit from a ‘no standing charge’ tariff are those who own properties that are empty for long periods of time – for example if you are away from home for several months of the year, or if you own a garage or workshop that is completely separate from your main property.

Workshop
A ‘no standing charge’ tariff may be suitable for buildings such as workshops, that are empty for long periods of time.

If your tariff has a higher standing charge, your unit rate will probably be cheaper and vice versa. If you pay no standing charge at all, your unit rate could be considerably more expensive. The best thing to do is find a tariff that strikes the right balance for your usage and circumstances.

If you think you would be better off on a no standing charge tariff, you can contact us to discuss your options.

Do standing charges apply on a prepayment meter?

Yes. The standing charge is subtracted from your credit every day. If you’re going away on holiday, it’s important that you leave enough credit on your meter to cover the standing charge.

Also be aware that if you run out of credit the standing charge will still be applied, building up a debt if you don’t pay it back.

Do standing charges apply on a smart meter?

The standing charge is determined by your tariff, not the type of meter you have – so it doesn’t make any difference if you have a standard meter or a smart meter. We have answered some common questions about smart meters in this article.

 

Do you feel you are paying too much for your gas and electricity? Eversmart offer some of the most competitive energy prices in the industry – you can get a quote in under 2 minutes here.

How do I find out who my gas and electricity supplier is?

How do I find out who my gas and electricity supplier is?

Have you just moved, or are about to move house? Or perhaps you’ve simply lost track of your paperwork. Whatever the reason, sometimes you need to find out which company supplies your gas and electricity. There are various ways to find out who your energy supplier is – read on to find out.

Before you do anything else… find a bill

It sounds obvious, but before you try anything else, see if you can dig out an old bill or letter from your energy provider. If you manage to get your hands on one, it should have the name and/or logo of your supplier on it, along with their contact details. It may also be worth searching through your old emails.

Obviously this won’t work if you have just moved house. If you’re moving into a rented property, there’s a chance your landlord or letting agency may know who your current supplier is.

If you still can’t find out, move on to one of the methods below.

Finding your gas supplier

Finding out who supplies your gas is easy – you just need to call the Meter Point Administration Service (also known as the Meter Number Helpline). Tell them your postcode and first line of your address, and they will give you the name of your current supplier along with your Meter Point Reference Number (MPRN).

Their number is 0870 608 1524.

The Meter Point Administration Service operates nationwide and calls are charged at 7p per minute.

Finding your electricity supplier

To find out who your electricity supplier is, you will need to call your local distribution company. The number you call will depend on which region of the country you live in – take a look at the map below to find out who to call in your area.

Finding your local distribution company
Call your local distribution company to find out who supplies your electricity. Click on the image to expand.

Here’s a list of distribution companies along with their phone numbers:

Region Distribution Company Phone Number
Northern Scotland Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks 0800 048 3515
Central & Southern Scotland SP Energy Networks 0330 1010 300
North East England & Yorkshire: Northern Powergrid 0800 011 3332
North West England Electricity North West 0800 195 4141
Merseyside, Cheshire, North Wales & North Shropshire SP Energy Networks 0330 1010 300
East Midlands & West Midlands Western Power Distribution 0800 096 3080
South Wales & South West England Western Power Distribution 0800 096 3080
London, South East England & Eastern England UK Power Networks 0845 601 4516
Southern England Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks 0800 048 3516
Northern Ireland Northern Ireland Electricity Networks 03457 643 643
Republic of Ireland ESB Networks 00353 1850 372 757

The distributor will tell you the name of your electricity supplier as well as your Meter Point Administration Number (MPAN). The cost of the call varies depending on which number you need to call.

 

While you’re here… Are you thinking about switching energy suppliers? You could save up to £400 per month by switching to Eversmart – get a quote here.