One of the best ways you can be more mindful of your energy usage is simple: understand how to read your energy bill.

When you understand your electricity usage by reading your bill, you can start making smart decisions that will not only reduce your impact on the environment, but they will also save you money.

The best way to start is by understanding a simple question: how much is 1 kWh of electricity?

How much is 1 kWh?

Before you can begin to understand your energy usage, you need to understand the kilowatt-hour (kWh).

Just like gas in your car is measured by the gallon, electricity is measured by the kWh.

The kWh is actually two measurements in one: speed and time. Wattage measures how fast a particular appliance uses electricity, and time measures how long that electricity is being consumed at that speed.

So, if you multiply the hours used by the wattage of the appliance, then divide by 1,000, you get the kWh measurement.

What does 1 kWh of electricity actually look like?

Calculations are all fine and good, but what about some real-world examples?

Before we list out a few here, just think of it this way: you can calculate the kWh usage of any device as long as you know the wattage. Often, the wattage is printed on the device itself. Just take that number, multiply it by how long you are using the device, and then divide that number by 1,000.

Now, if you want some specific examples, here are a few examples of 1 kWh in action:

  • Charging your phone for 2 hours/day over the course of a month
  • Brewing 12 pots of coffee
  • Running the microwave for 2 minutes every day for a month
  • Operating two desktop computers during a standard workday
  • Operating six laptop computers during a standard workday
  • Running a 60-watt light bulb from sunup to sundown
  • Cooling off a room with one medium window air conditioner for 1 hour

Track your usage and save.

Now that you understand how the kWh is measured, you can do a much more accurate job of understanding how your energy usage impacts your bill.

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If you are looking to reduce your bill, you can look at the activities that you do on a daily basis that add up over time. Knowing that helps you make decisions on which activities to cut or reduce.

The result? You can maximize the impact your activities have on your bill - and on your wallet. Those tweaks won’t be made by guessing the cost. Instead, you can conduct a full, detailed energy audit in your own home without having to pay a consultant.

Knowing your energy bill puts the power in your hands (no pun intended). Take a few minutes to understand how many kWh’s your daily appliances and devices are using, and then you can start picking and choosing what to unplug and turn off during the day to keep your bill under control.