Your Bill Starts Here
The basic unit of electric power is the watt. Because a watt is small, a unit called a kilowatt is used for measurement. 1000 watts equals 1 kilowatt. The numbers recorded by your electric meter reflect the number of watts used in your home together with the length of time you use them. This is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). For example, a 1000 watt (or 1 kilowatt) heater operating continuously for one hour would use one kWh. One 100-watt light bulb operated for ten hours would also equal one kWh.
The electric portion of your utility bill uses these kilowatt-hours (kWh) to calculate your monthly charge. We read your electric meter each month. The previous reading is subtracted from the current reading to get the total kWh’s you used for that period. These kWh’s, multiplied by the rate per kWh from the rate tables, will equal your monthly charge.
Most devices that use electricity will have a label that indicates its wattage. If you multiply that number of watts by the number of hours you use it in a month, and divide by 1000, (remember 1000 watts equals 1 kilowatt), you will know approximately how many kilowatt-hours that appliance has used. When estimating the time your appliances are used, remember that if it is controlled by a thermostat, such as your furnace or refrigerator, it is not “on” continuously.
Everyone uses electricity differently. Some of you own every appliance available; while others use very few. Some have multiple TV’s and computers running all the time; and others have one TV on only a few hours a week. Houses of similar size have different insulation values, different windows, different color shingles and different thermostat settings, all contributing to very different utility bills. For these reasons, while comparing utility bills with your neighbors might be interesting, actual usage depends totally on your own lifestyle and home construction.
Light Bill or Utility Bill?
Often, customers refer to their utility bill as their “light bill”. Actually, the electric charge is only a portion of your total utility bill, which can also include water, wastewater, garbage, stormwater, sales tax, and garbage tax. A good way to put the charges for electricity into perspective is to divide the total electric charge, by the number of days in the period, giving you a cost per day for electricity. Most customers find this number surprisingly low.