Interpreting energy figures

How to Interpret Energy Figures?

A Complete Guide to Interpreting Energy Figures.

Energy figures can be confusing.

The only number you usually care about when you get your electricity bill is the cost. All of the figures in kilowatt hours (kWh) leave you racking your brain for those physics lessons you had at school and often this can leave you feeling a little puzzled.

Understanding kilowatt hours can be useful for a number of reasons:

  • Find out how much energy you are using
  • Understand how your energy supplier is calculating your bills
  • Learn how much energy your appliances are using
  • Find out how you can save energy

As a solar installer, explaining the energy benefits for our customers is important. We want to make sure that you understand exactly what these figures mean and are not left feeling confused or mislead.

So welcome to our masterclass on all the energy figures that you will come across if you are thinking about installing solar.

What is a watt?

A watt is a unit of power that represents the rate at which energy is created or consumed.

This basically means how much power is being created or consumed at one given time. So, a 100-watt lightbulb is drawing 100 watts of electricity for every second that it is switched on.

1,000 watts makes a kilowatt.

What is a kilowatt hour?

Kilowatt hours are what your energy bills will be measured on as this measures your energy consumption. The average cost for 1kWh is currently around 13p but this continues to rise year by year.

A kilowatt hour (kWh) is the amount of energy it would take to keep a 1,000-watt appliance running for an hour.

If you had a 500-watt hairdryer it would take 2 hours to use 1kWh of energy.

Similarly, a 2,000-watt electric oven would only take half an hour to use 1kWh.

For more examples look at our infographic!

Be careful here! It doesn’t mean the number of kilowatts that you are using in an hour.

What is the difference between kW and kWh?

A kilowatt (kW) is equal to 1,000 watts and is a measure of power at one point in time.

Kilowatt hours (kWh) on the other hand, are a measure of energy over a period of time.


Interpreting Energy Figures

Other units of electricity?

Here is when we get to the big numbers! You are unlikely to be coming across these on your bills but in case you want to broaden your pub quiz wisdom here is our complete guide to energy figures!

1,000 watt (W) = 1 kilowatt (kW)

1kW = 1 megawatt (MW)

1MW = 1 gigawatt (GW)

1GW = 1 terawatt (TW)

1TW = 1 petawatt (PW)

1PW = 1 exawatt (EW)

1EW = 1 zettawatt (ZW)

1ZW = 1 yottawatt (YW)

And 384.6 yottawatts (YW) = the luminosity of the sun!

What is the average energy consumption?

This largely depends on the size of your house, the amount of time you spend in your house and the number of people that live in your house.

According to statistics from the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (OFGEM):

  • The average energy consumption for a small house is 1,900 kWh a year.
  • For a medium sized house it is 3,100 kWh a year.
  • And for a large house is 4,600 kWh a year.

How can I reduce my energy costs?

There are many ways of reducing your energy usage and bills.

Here are a few quick tips on how you could be saving money around the house:

  • Solar energy – you create your own free energy with solar panels. Installing solar panels will guarantee reduced bills all year round and for the next 20-25 years!
  • Insulate your house – drafts and poor insulation will reduce the efficiency of your heating system, meaning that you are likely to spend more on energy.
  • Only use as much water as you need when you boil a kettle – the less water in the kettle, the less energy it will use to boil the water!
  • Switch to energy-saving lightbulbs.
  • Turn appliances off at the walls when you are not using them.

How can I save money on my bills with solar?

Very simply! Solar panels produce energy (kW) from the sun for free.

The more energy you produce at your home, the less energy you will be buying off the National Grid. Therefore, by installing a solar system onto your home you will be able to reduce your electricity bills.

On top of this you can actually get paid to produce clean solar energy through the feed in tariff (FiT) scheme! This is a government funded initiative to support the uptake of renewable energies.

So how does the FiT work? The FiT is made up of 2 payments:

  1. Generation tariff: you get paid a set rate for every kWh your solar system produces.
  2. Export tariff: you get paid a further rate for any excess energy that you do not use that goes back to the grid (this is estimated at 50%).

The government have recently announced that they plan to close the FiT scheme at the end of March 2019. You will still be able to get these financial benefits for 20 years if you install solar before this date.

Solar panels are designed to last a long time and often they come with a 25 year warranty. That means you can sit back and enjoy decades of reduced bills!

If you have an immersion element to your boiler, not only can you save money on electricity bills, you can also use excess energy from your solar panels to heat your water. Meaning that you will spend less on gas too!

Oh and another benefit, solar panels protect you from rising electricity costs. Did you know that the average annual domestic electricity bill in the UK has risen by over 50% from 2007-2017? So if you want to avoid the risk of increasing electricity prices, install solar now to receive guaranteed free energy for at least 20 years!

If you like the sound of reducing your bills or would like to find out more about solar energy, get in touch at or call us on 0151 372 0305.

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