What Is a Kilowatt-Hour (kWh)?

The term kilowatt-hour commonly arises in conversations about electricity. While this unit of measurement is used every day in the utilities industry, many people are unsure of what it is and how it works. So, what exactly is a kilowatt-hour?

A kWh is a unit of measurement that is equal to the use of 1,000 watts over the course of one hour. This means that if a device or machine consumes 1,000 watts in an hour, it would be equal to 1 kWh.

What Does a kWh Measure?

A kWh measures the use of electricity over a specified amount of time. This is how many electric companies determine the amount of electricity used within a home or business. 

Understanding what kWh means and why it’s important can help you better understand your expenses and how you can reduce electricity costs. The longer you leave an appliance running, the more kWh it will use over time.

How kWh Is Calculated

If you want to calculate the amount of electricity you use over a day based on kWh, there’s a simple formula you can use to get started. The number of kWh in a device or appliance is equal to the wattage times the number of hours divided by 1,000. If you write out the equation, it looks like this:

Wattage x hours / 1,000 = kWh

Calculating kWh in your home or business is fairly simple. For example, if using a 1,000-watt appliance for one hour is equal to 1 kWh, then using a 2,000-watt appliance over a half-hour would also equal 1 kWh. Similarly, using a 200-watt device for about five hours makes up 1 kWh. 

By knowing how many kWh you’re using regularly, you can calculate your normal electricity costs. All you need to do is take the number of kWh you’ve consumed over a certain amount of time and multiply it by the price of your electricity, and you’ll come up with the overall cost.

The Difference Between Kilowatt-Hour and Kilowatt (kW)? 

Now that we’ve explained kWh, it’s time to consider kWh vs. kW. What is the main difference between the two units of measurement?

Unlike kWh, kW is a unit of energy that’s equal to 1,000 watts. kWh, on the other hand, is a measurement that equals a specific number of watts over a predetermined amount of time. If an appliance uses up 1 kW of energy in an hour, that means it has also used 1 kWh in an hour. This unit of measurement is the standard for analyzing the use of electricity and its associated costs. 

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