WattBuy’s Top 4 Fundamental Energy Facts
WattBuy started with a goal of transparency and a mission to democratize the electricity sector, ensuring customers understand their options.
While WattBuy uses a lot of smart technology to democratize the clean energy sector, we end up going back to the basics every now and then. So, here are WattBuy’s top four fundamental energy facts to keep in mind when shopping for an electricity plan that’s right for you:
What is a kilowatt-hour (kWh)?
When people open their electric bill, they typically notice the amount due that month and move on. But your electric bill can also tell you a lot about how you and your family use energy.
Understanding what a kWh is can save you money by helping you monitor your electricity usage and make educated decisions about saving energy.
Although it sounds like it, a kWh is not defined as simply as the number of kilowatts you’re using in an hour. A kWh equals the amount of energy you would use to keep an appliance running for an hour. In other words, a kWh is a measure of the rate of energy used in kilowatts. When you see kWh on your monthly bill, it’s a measurement of the wattage, or power, it took to run your electronic appliances and the amount of time you ran them over the course of a given month.
If you're confused about the difference between power and energy, you're not alone. A good way to explain the difference is to compare power and energy to the speed and distance you're used to seeing on your car's dashboard.
The speedometer, or power in this case, measures how fast the car travels at any given moment. The odometer, energy in this case, measures the total distance the car travels. So, power is the amount of electricity produced at one moment in time, usually measured in watts, and energy is the total level of power produced over a period of time, usually measured in watt-hours.
For example, 60 watts is the amount of power required to turn-on a typical light bulb and 60 watt-hours is the amount of energy required to leave the light bulb on for an hour.
What are solar batteries and how do they work?
Solar is one of the most common renewable energy sources, and solar panels are great for generating clean energy. However, solar panels can only generate this energy when the sun is shining.
That’s where solar batteries can help. Solar batteries reserve and store unused energy from your solar panels. This stored electricity can be used during the night, on a cloudy day or during energy demand peaks.
Solar panels and batteries seamlessly work together because of the switchboard that directs the solar energy created to the appliances in your home. If you’ve installed a battery system, the switchboard will direct any excess solar energy generated to the battery - preserving it for later use.
How do you prevent overloaded circuits?
An electrical circuit overload occurs when you try to use more electricity than your circuit is made for, and they’re common causes of house fires.
When there is a circuit overload, the circuit breaker will trip and open up, shutting off the power supply to that circuit and cutting off the electricity.
It’s important to pay attention to how often a circuit breaker trips. If you find yourself constantly resetting the breaker, eventually, it will wear out and stop doing its job, potentially resulting in an electrical overload that will spark a fire.
Anything plugged into an outlet increases the overall load on the circuit, and circuits can only cope with so much electricity. Some warning signs of an overloaded circuit include flickering or dimming lights, frequently tripped circuit breakers or blown fuses, crackling or buzzing from receptacles, mild shock or tingle from receptacles or switches, warm or discolored wall plates and a burning odor coming from receptacles or switches.
You can avoid overloaded circuits by cutting down on how many extension cords you use for appliances. Keep in mind that power strips and extension cords only add additional outlets but do not change the amount of power being received from the outlet or the amount of power your home is wired to handle.
Are fixed or variable energy rates better?
Shopping for a new energy plan can be confusing and stressful, especially when you’re not sure which rate is best for you. Depending on the type of rate you choose, your monthly bill could fluctuate significantly.
A fixed-rate energy plan is an electricity plan where the price for every kWh on your monthly bill remains fixed until the end of your contract term. Some energy providers make seasonal adjustments based on prices in the wholesale energy market, but these changes will be small.
Basically, the amount you pay each month will still change since you’re only paying a fixed price per kWh of electricity used, but your rates will always be predictable.
On a variable-rate energy plan, the price for kWh changes periodically as energy market prices change. Because variable-rate energy plans follow wholesale energy prices, these rates are still predictable to a certain extent. When wholesale prices go up, so will residential energy rates and vice versa.
A downside to a fixed-rate energy plan is not being able to take advantage of these wholesale market fluctuations. If the wholesale price decreases, you won’t benefit from this drop. However, you won’t have to worry about wholesale price increases.
Variable rates allow you to take advantage of these wholesale price fluctuations, but there is an uncertainty and risk that comes with that.
Today, there are plenty of options for consumers who want to switch their electricity plan. To find a plan tailored to your needs, head over to WattBuy.com and search for affordable plans in your area.