women s long sleeve polo How much do my electrical appliances cost to run each month

The “Ask a Builder” series is dedicated to answering some of the many questions Fairbanks residents have about building, energy and the many other parts of home life.

FAIRBANKS Have you ever wondered how much it costs to use a given electrical appliance? For instance, how much does it cost to run your oven for four hours on Thanksgiving? Or to dry a load of clothes?

There are many online calculators that will determine the cost of using an appliance if you know basic information about the appliance. First look up the electricity an appliance requires, which is often found on the appliance itself or in the manual (listed in watts or amps). You can also purchase a Kill A Watt meter at a hardware store, which allows you to measure the power consumption for any appliances that plug into a standard (USA) 120 volt AC wall outlet.

You also can calculate the cost of using an electrical appliance yourself, but first you should be familiar with a few terms used to measure electricity.

Amp The amount of current that an appliance draws is measured in amps. For instance, you might own a clothes dryer that draws between 10 15 amps. Smaller appliances use less current; for instance, many light bulbs draw less than one amp.

Volt A volt is the unit used to measure the electric potential in a circuit. You can think of volts as the force that makes current flow to an appliance.

Watt A watt is a measure of electrical power. Electrical power is calculated by multiplying voltage and current. So from the current rating, you can calculate the watts that an appliance will use. Information about the power the appliance uses is often given on the appliance too such as a 100 watt light bulb.

Kilowatt A kilowatt is 1,000 Watts, just like 1 kilometer is 1,000 meters.

Kilowatt hour (kWh) A kWh is a measure of electric energy, which is what the electric company sells to you. To find the cost of running an appliance, you need to know how many kilowatt hours it uses: first figure out the power draw (kilowatts) and then multiply it by the amount of time that you will use the appliance (hours).

Let’s consider a few examples.

1. Consider a TV that is rated to use 2 amps of current. To begin, find the power by multiplying the current by the voltage from the socket: 2 amps 120 volts = 240 watts. To convert to kilowatts, divide by 1000. The television uses 0.24 kW. Now let’s assume that your family watches TV each night for three hours. To find the electrical energy you will need to buy from your utility,

multiply 0.24 kW 3 hours = 0.72 kWh. In Fairbanks, electricity costs approximately $0.18 per kWh, so the TV will cost about $0.13 every 3 hours.

2. Now let’s say the appliance lists power draw instead of current: an oven uses approximately 4,000 Watts, or 4 kW. If you have the oven on for 2 hours while you bake dinner, you will have used 8 kWh, which will cost $1.44.

3. Lastly, it’s good to be aware of ghost loads, or electricity used by appliances that are plugged in (but not on) all the time like a TV or a phone charger. If you don’t know whether an appliance has a ghost load, a Kill A Watt meter can help you find out. Even though ghost loads are small, several appliances with ghost loads could add up in a month. The good news is that they’re easy to prevent simply unplug appliances that are not in use, or plug them into a power strip that can be turned off.

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