Making toast for breakfast, running the clothes dryer and watching TV all use electricity. How does it all add up? BC Hydro’s Pat Mathot explains.

What is a kilowatt hour?

 A kilowatt hour (kWh) is a unit of energy equal to one kilowatt of power expended for one hour. Here’s an example: if you use a 9.5-watt ENERGY STAR® LED bulb for 10 hours, you have consumed 0.10 kWh of electricity. A kWh is the most common billing unit for energy delivered to consumers.

How do I know how much electricity each device uses?

First, figure out how many watts the device draws. A clothes dryer uses about 5,500 watts. Then determine how often you use each device. To calculate kWh, take the device’s wattage, multiply that by the number of hours that you use it and divide by 1,000.

How does that translate to what’s on my bill?

Residents are charged 8.29 cents per kWh for the first 1,350 kWh used over an average two-month billing period and 12.43 cents per kWh over that amount. Using a 5,500-watt clothes dryer for eight cycles a week adds up to about $100 a year. Heating, however, is the biggest electrical draw for the average B.C. household: about 50% of home energy use annually. “The potential big-ticket items in most homes will be anything that heats and cools air, space or water,” says Mathot. Even a 1,400-watt electric space heater used about four hours a day can add up to about $13.90 a month.

How do I figure out how much energy I use each day?

Log into your BC Hydro account to view your detailed electricity use by the month, week, day or hour. This information can help you understand your energy consumption patterns.

To submit a question to our expert, please email us: teampowersmart@bchydro.com

Make the Switch

Make the Switch

Turn off unnecessary lights. Even if you’re in the room consider using task lighting instead of overhead lights. Two 100-watt incandescent bulbs switched off for an average of two hours per day could save you $12 over a year.