a person plugging cord into electrical surge protector

Have you ever been baffled by the charges on your electric bill? Understanding utility bills is not something that many people are required to understand; however, a working knowledge of how it is measured may help you to figure out your electric bill better and could help you lower your electric costs over time. All it takes is a little of time to learn the basics of electricity. Learn how electricity is measured, charged, and how a power outage can affect your bill. 

How is Electricity Measured

Electricity is measured in Watts, a small amount of power. Electronic devices and appliances can use a small or large number of Watts to function properly, depending on the size and output of the device. Electric generation usually measures electricity in terms of Kilowatts (kW, or 1,000 Watts), Megawatts (MW, or 1 million Watts), and Gigawatts (GW, or 1 billion Watts).

Electric companies measure use of electricity in Watthours (Wh). A Watthour is equal to the energy of one Watt steadily supplied to or taken away from an electric circuit for one hour. A standard electric bill is measured in Kilowatthours (kWh), which is the number of Kilowatts measured in one hour. This measure is also used in determining how much electricity is used to operate a power plant. Most appliances and electrical devices should state the amount of Watts needed to power them. From there, it only takes simple math to figure out how much electricity your devices are using. 

Who Measures Electricity

Electricity is measured by representatives of your local electric company. Meter readers used to come out once a month to read the electric meters on homes and buildings. In recent years, however, smart meters have made it possible for electric company employees to read meters remotely. Using these readings, electric companies can calculate your bill based on these average prices for electric consumer types: 

  • Residential: 12.90 cents per kWh
  • Commercial: 10.68 cents per kWh
  • Industrial: 6.91 cents per kWh
  • Transportation: 9.67 cents per kWh

Factors Determine How Much is Charged

There are many factors that go into determining how much is charged for power. Seasons of the year in various locations can play a big part into an electric bill. For example, air conditioners require more electricity to run than heaters in Arizona, so it is expected to have higher electric bills in the summer than the winter.

Other factors can include weather conditions, power plant maintenance, and regulations. Where you live can also determine how much you are charged. If you live in a community that has a power plant nearby you will likely see lower electrical costs than if you were to live in a community where the power plant is further away.

How Power Outages Affect Energy and Costs

Power outages, especially from squirrel and rodent damage, can cause a lot of trouble and rack up costs. Most of the costs are associated with lost time, wages, and products. Power outages can negatively impact commercial customers more than residential ones, because a business without power is losing money. Additionally, outages are very impactful on utility companies, as customers' consumption drops until power is restored. According to NRG, the businesses most impacted by power outages are data centers and businesses that require energy for refrigeration units like restaurants or convenience stores. Storms are a huge culprit of power outages, although equipment failure, fallen tree limbs, and unprotected utilities from critter damage happen often as well. 

Electric charges can seem daunting to comprehend. However, a basic study of how electricity is measured can help you to understand those charges and possibly lower them by understanding what electric devices are so expensive to run. Flowing electricity is fine, but power outages are frustrating and can impact a business negatively. Although culprits like storms and equipment failure are unpredictable, you can proactively protect yourself from the havoc of critter damage with Critter Guard's Line Guard and Pole Guard systems. For more information on how to keep pesky critters away from electric lines, poles, and substations to keep blackouts at bay, contact us today!