We all consume energy every day, with electricity being the most used. It’s vital to have electricity because it makes lives easier. We need it to power appliances, devices and light our homes.
Companies provide households with electricity, and consumers pay them for their services. They bill us monthly according to how much electricity we consume. There are assigned rates to determine how much electricity costs and charge customers based on it.
Besides the price of electricity, there are times in a calendar year when electric consumption is higher than usual. Those are the factors households have to consider when budgeting to pay for utilities.
Then there are also the people who exploit it to deceive consumers and steal their money. Fortunately, you can learn how to calculate your electricity consumption and avoid energy scams.
Manual calculation of power consumption
There’s a way to calculate how much electricity you consume, and it involves every appliance and electronic device you use. Each of them is reflected in your monthly energy bill alongside your lighting, heating, and cooling.
Each device and appliance in your house consumes a certain amount of electricity measured in kilowatts per hour (kWh). Therefore, your power consumption level is the total amount of kWh used in your household.
To know how much electricity you consume per month, you’ll have to follow these steps:
- Calculate the watts each of your devices use per day
- Convert watts to kilowatts (1,000 watts = 1 kilowatt)
- Determine the number of kilowatts an appliance consumes per month
- Multiply the kilowatts per month by your electric rate
Once you’ve done all this, you’ll figure out how much you spend on electricity every month. It’s optimal if you do this every season change to determine your bill’s average cost so you can see which device or appliance consumes the most during that time of the year.
Finding device and appliance wattage
To begin calculating your power consumption, you need to find the wattage of all your devices. Most of them have it on their labels, which you can find either at the bottom or back.
If it’s not on the label, you can refer to the device’s user manual. If somehow you still can’t find it on the manuals, here are other options to determine how much power your devices consume:
- Contact the device manufacturer
- Search it online by looking up your device and model number
- Purchase a wattage measuring device that displays a device’s wattage when plugged in
Calculating kWh usage
Once you’ve found the wattage of your devices and appliances, you can figure out how many watts each uses per day. You should multiply the wattage by the number of hours you use it every day to find out their total consumption. The formula looks like this:
Device wattage x Hours used per day = Watt-hours (Wh) per day
For example, a 150-watt computer monitor that you use eight hours per day will equal 1,200 Wh per day.
Once you’ve determined the Wh usage of each of your devices, you have to convert it to kWh because it’s how providers measure your consumption in your bill. Then, all you need to do is divide the Wh to 1000.
1,200 Wh / 1000 = 1.2 kWh
After you’re done converting, you can estimate your monthly power usage. To do this, you need to multiply the kWh usage per day to 30 to simulate an average month.
1.2 kWh x 30 = 36 kWh per month
So, using your computer monitor for 8 hours a day will cost you 36 kWh per month on average.
Calculating your electricity bill
After finding out its average monthly kWh usage, you can estimate how much an appliance or device will cost on your monthly electricity bill. For this, you’ll need to refer to your last bill to see the electric rate you’re paying.
However, two different plans will affect your bill estimation. If you’re on a variable-rate plan, the electric rate you’re paying can vary monthly, making it difficult to estimate. A fixed-rate plan doesn’t have that, so they’re ideal for customers who wish to estimate their monthly bills.
To determine how much an appliance or device costs you monthly on average, you multiply your monthly usage (kWh) by your electric rate.
36 kWh x $0.10 = $3.6 per month
Assuming that you pay that much for your electricity, using your computer monitor for 8 hours every day will cost you $3.6 per month.
Aside from this method, you can also get a more accurate estimate of your monthly electricity bill by multiplying the number of kWh you used for a month by your electric rate. You can find that number by looking at your meter.
Reducing your power consumption
Knowing how to approximate your monthly electricity usage allows you to understand your monthly bill. If you think your bill is quite high, you need to reduce your power consumption.
The obvious thing to do would be to reduce the number of hours you use an appliance or device at home. However, that may not apply to all electronics you own.
You also have to factor in your lighting, heating, and cooling, which according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), account for about 32% of the total electricity usage of an average household.
To help you out, here are some ways you can do to lower your electricity bill potentially:
- Set your thermostat to an energy-efficient temperature during summer and winter. Set it to 78 degrees Fahrenheit and 68 during winter in the summer. In addition, you should also raise and lower the thermostat setting whenever you’re away from home, so you aren’t paying to heat or cool an empty house.
- Lower your water heater’s temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Doing so won’t only reduce electricity usage but also slow down the corrosion of your home’s water heater and popes.
- Invest in energy-efficient electronics. If a device you have has a power-saving setting, use it to reduce its standby consumption.
- Buy Energy-Star certified appliances. They only require less electricity compared to non-certified models.
Scams involving power consumption
Although it isn’t as common as other scams reported on mainstream media, fraudulent schemes involving electricity usage are also something to be wary of. Scammers exploit the fact that people need electricity, making power consumption scams more appealing.
There are two scams to be wary of involving energy: electric company scams and energy fraud. Here are things you must know about both to avoid them:
Types of electric company scams
These are the two common electric company scams and their red flags:
- Phone scams
Scammers who disguise themselves as representatives of your local utility company use phone calls to deceive consumers. They often use different intimidation tactics to get you to pay them immediately. You’ll hear them threaten you with things like shutting off your electricity if you don’t pay them right away.
Well-organized scammers will also spoof the phone number that appears on your caller ID to make it look like your provider is calling you. They’ll do anything to make you panic, so you’ll easily give in to their demands.
To avoid falling for these scams, be suspicious whenever someone calls you and says they’re a representative of your energy provider demanding immediate payment. Instead, contact your provider and verify if the phone call and number came from them.
- Door-to-door scams
Besides phone calls, electric company scams also happen in person. Scammers will come knocking on your door pretending to be a sales representative of a utility company offering you ways to lower your electricity bill. They’ll engage you in a friendly conversation to let your guard down so you can give them your personal details that they’ll use to steal your money.
To avoid this scam, always ask for identification when someone claiming to be from an energy provider pays you an unannounced visit. Do not let them inside your house if they can’t give you anything that’ll identify them. You can also call your utility company to verify the person’s identity speaking to you.
Energy fraud is committed by tampering with meters that record a household or business’s electricity usage. Scammers do this to pay less than they should or even escape paying anything. Corrupt utility employees and companies also commit this to increase a customer’s monthly bill and earn more profit.
Signs that someone tampered with a meter includes the following:
- Numbers running backward or are hardly visible.
- Gas smell near the meter box
- Sparks or smoke come out from the meter box.
Once you notice anything like this on your electricity meter, you should report it to your utility company. A tampered meter won’t just increase your electricity expenses; it’ll also endanger your building and other nearby structures. So don’t disregard any of the signs to stay safe.
Editor’s Note on Energy Consumption:
Approximating your electricity expenses will help you manage your expenses and energy consumption. Besides that, we encourage you to be aware of any scams involving utility services. You can report them to Consider the Consumer, and we’ll gladly assist you in handling them.