What Is A Kilowatt Hour?

EnergyCalendarJanuary 3, 2019

When it comes to energy and energy use, there’s a lot of jargon that can be confusing. What’s a watt? What’s a joule? What’s a kilowatt-hour, and why is it different from a kilowatt?

In this article, we will try to explain these terms in a way that makes sense to the everyday person.

What Is A Kilowatt?

Before we talk about kilowatts we have to talk about watts.

A watt is a measure of power. It’s one of the most common ways in which we measure how much power we’ll need to accomplish a task. The more power you need to do something, the more watts you need.

One watt is equal to 1 joule. If it’s more helpful, you can also think of one watt as equal to .00134 horsepower. A joule is a standard international unit of energy while horsepower is generally used to explain how powerful a motor vehicle is.

So, what is a kilowatt?

A kilowatt is 1000 watts. So one kilowatt is 3,600,000 joules or 3.6 megajoules or 1.341 horsepower.

If none of these conversions are helpful, that’s ok. Unless you’re really familiar with cars or are into physics, these numbers likely don’t mean much to you.

A brief explanation of kilowatt hours might help you better understand kilowatts generally speaking.

What Is A Kilowatt-Hour?

A kilowatt-hour is a measure of energy. The abbreviation for kilowatt-hour is kWh.

Think of it as a gas tank. An appliance’s kilowatt-hour information will tell you how much energy that appliance will need to run for an hour. 

Most of your appliances and electronics have their kWh usage information on them somewhere. The electricity bill that your utility company sends you every month is also measured in kilowatt-hours. If you know an appliance’s kWh and your electricity bill’s total kWh, you can do some quick math to figure out how much that appliance costs you to use over the course of a day, week, month, or year.

Power Vs Energy

This idea of power and energy is helpful when it comes to explaining the differences between watts and kilowatt-hours.

Imagine there are twin powerlifters.

Now, imagine that the two are standing side-by-side doing deadlifts. They’re both lifting the same amount of weight, which means they’re doing the same amount of work, but let’s say one gets tired after 30 deadlifts in an hour, while the other powerlifter can do 40 in that same time period.

Although each deadlift requires the same amount of power (watts,) one powerlifter is doing more deadlifts over the course of an hour than the other. Either that powerlifter has larger energy reserves or he or she is using their energy (kWh) more efficiently than their slower sibling.

Either way, something is making one powerlifter more efficient, although both are doing the same work.

With technological innovations, energy-efficient electronics can exert the same amount of power using less energy or do more work using the same amount of energy. Either way, you’re getting more for less by updating your appliances. Think of an energy efficient appliance as the faster twin.

How To Reduce Your Electricity Bill

If you want to reduce your electricity bill you have three options. You can either use less energy, use energy more efficiently, or find an alternative energy source.

Let’s talk about those first two options.

Use less energy

One of the easiest ways to lower your electricity bill is by reducing your electricity usage. And before you start getting worried, no, you don’t have to live like you’re camping in order to reduce usage.

Here are some simple suggestions for reducing energy use.

Turn it off - How often do you leave your computer or laptop running all day? How often do you leave lights on to keep your house illuminated? If you’re like most people, chances are you do this kind of stuff quite often. The thing is, leaving computers and light bulbs on when you’re not actively using them requires energy. 

And that energy costs money. 

If you’re looking to reduce your energy consumption, try turning things off when they’re not in use. Let rooms you aren’t using stay dark at night, and turn off your computer. These small things make a big impact on your bill.

Change the thermostat - Most people run their heat too hot during the winter and their air conditioner too cold during the summer. The problem is it costs money to do that.

Nobody is saying that you need to wear a coat inside during the winter or that you should have to fan yourself during the summer, but if the clothes you’re wearing don’t match the season you’re in, you could likely save money by changing the temperature.

Even fiddling with the temperature just a little can translate into huge savings.

Use energy more efficiently

There are several ways you can use energy more efficiently. We already mentioned how updating to more energy-efficient appliances, light bulbs, and electronics can help with this, but there is so much more you can do.

For example, you can perform regular maintenance. Whether it’s a malfunctioning part on your water heater or window whose seal broke, these small things force your home to use more energy to achieve the same results. Regular maintenance will help make sure all of your possessions are working how they’re intended to, saving you money in the long-run.

Even something as simple as regularly changing the air filter will help you save energy. A clogged air filter will restrict airflow, and a restricted airflow forces your heater and air conditioner to work harder. The harder they have to work, the more you end up paying for electricity.

Vivint Solar Can Help With Option Three

If you have reduced your usage and increased your efficiency, but still want to lower your bill, solar panels might be the next step for you. Using solar panels as an alternate energy source can help you save up to 20% on your energy rate.*

Not only can solar panels help reduce your electricity bill, but they also provide your home with clean, environmentally-friendly electricity.

Set up an appointment to speak with one of our reps today if you think solar might be right for you!


**It’s possible for Vivint Solar customers across the United States to save up to 20% with Vivint Solar’s PPAs and Leases relative to their current utility rates. Individual customer’s savings will vary by utility, system production, energy consumption habits, equipment type, weather, and other factors. Vivint Solar does not guarantee savings on a (i) customer’s energy costs, (ii) the existence of or pricing associated with a utility’s net metering program, (iii) the pricing of a utility’s residential rates, or (iv) the availability of any local, state, or federal incentives or tax credits.

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