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When you understand your electricity usage, you will be able to make wiser and more informed decisions about your energy consumption. In the US, the average household power usage is about 909 kWh per month which translates to about 10,909 kWh each year, making American homes one of the highest consumers of electricity.

How is Electricity Measured?
The worldwide standard of measuring electricity is kilowatt, which is abbreviated as kW. One kilowatt is equivalent to 1,000 watts.

Your electricity company will charge you based on your energy usage – how much electricity you consume each kilowatt-hour (kWh). For instance, each hour if a 100 watt light bulb consumes 0.1 kilowatts, it will take the bulb 10 hours to consume 1 kWh. So, if the electricity company charges $0.10 for 1 kWh, you will end up paying $0.12 for using the light bulb for 10 hours.

While you may feel that the amount of $0.12 is inconsequential, you will be surprised to learn that these small amounts can add up over a month and become quite substantial.

Understanding Your Energy Use
If you want to know your average household electricity usage, there is a simple formula that lets you calculate any appliance’s kilowatt-hour usage and get an approximate cost for this usage.

Check the rear or the bottom part of an appliance. Here, you will find the wattage. Then use the following formula to calculate how much it would cost you to run the appliance.

Appliance wattage x hours of use
——————————————– x $0.1208 = Average cost
1,000

There are several ways to reduce the kWh you consume. For instance, check your air conditioning or heating to ensure you are not overcooling or overheating your home when you are not at home. You can also reduce your average kWh usage by switching off things like lights, chargers, exhaust fans, cooking appliances, printers, TV, DVD players, and other gadgets when they are not in use. Turn them on only when you need them.

How Your Energy Company Bills You?
Many times, you may be unaware of the price you are paying for electricity usage. This price is referred to as tariff or rate and is usually mentioned in the contract your sign with your energy provider.

Most energy providers bill their customers on a flat rate tariff. It means that you are billed the same rate for the usage of electricity throughout the day. The other type of tariff is known as a time-of-use tariff. In this type, the rate that the electricity provider charges keeps changing based on the time of the day. So, you will be billed a lower amount during off-peak hours and a higher amount during peak hours. The electricity provider decides which are the peak and off-peak hours.

The time-of-use tariff can actually help you save money on your energy bills. You can switch your heavy usage, like dishwasher and washing machine, to the off-peak period, when it will be charged at a lower rate.

Many electricity companies have other tariff structures. In fact, in some states, providers have different tariffs for specific consumer groups. Check out the different tariffs your electricity provider offers and then opt for one that is the most suitable.

How to Estimate Electricity Usage
If you want to estimate your appliance electricity usage, the simplest method is to invest in an electricity usage monitor. Using the monitor is very simple and easy. Just plug the monitor into the electrical outlet and then plug the appliance into the electricity usage monitor. Turn on the electrical outlet. The monitor will show details of the appliance, including the number of watts it is consuming. The electricity usage monitor also will tell the appliance’s kWh usage.

It is prudent to remember that the monitor will function just with smaller appliances that are standard 120 volts. Hence, you will not be able to use the monitor to check your kWh usage for larger appliances, like dishwasher, clothes dryer and washing machine.

Energy usage monitors are available online and are affordably priced. You can also get them at home improvement and hardware stores. Alternatively, you can check with your energy provider whether they have a home energy evaluation kit, which will come with a monitor and handy reference material to understand the readings of the monitor.

Things to Consider
Your overall electricity usage will also vary based on the season. It has been observed that the highest usage occurs during summer and winter, as that is the time people use air conditioners and heaters throughout the day, and these household appliances consume a lot of energy.

You can also reduce your electricity usage by investing in energy-efficient appliances. Look at the Star Energy rating to find appliances that are most efficient. Once you are satisfied, you can upgrade your existing appliances. Once you do this, you will notice a difference in your energy consumption and this, in turn, will reduce your electricity bill.

The Final Words
Check with your energy provider if they can do a no-cost home energy assessment. This evaluation will highlight the measures you take to reduce average household power consumption. As a result, your electric bill will be lower and you will be playing your role to conserve energy.

You also have the option of installing a whole-house energy monitoring system, which will measure the amount of energy that a circuit uses. This system is better than investing in a simple energy usage monitor as it has the ability to measure appliances that use 120 volts and 240 volts. Typically, the system is installed into the main breaker panel and this installation should be done by a licensed and qualified electrician.

Lastly, check with your electricity provider about the installation of a smart electricity usage meter. This meter is positioned outside the house and measures your usage of electricity on a daily basis and lets the provider know of it. The meter will provide you real-time information of your energy usage, thereby enabling you to manage your energy usage in a more prudent manner.

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