What is Electricity?
HOW WE USE – AND PAY FOR – ELECTRICITY
Electricity is unlike most consumer goods because it has no shelf life. It cannot be created, packaged and warehoused by a producer, shipped to a wholesaler and then stored and displayed by a retailer until a consumer chooses to purchase it. It is not even like other utilities. Natural gas, for example, is a fluid that can be stored in tanks or pipelines to improve the supply when demand is high or production is low.
Electricity is produced in real time as customers demand it. Since demand fluctuates, it is continually reviewed and anticipated to ensure enough power is steadily available to meet the needs of consumers.
The basic unit of electric power is a watt. The higher the wattage, the more energy the electrical device will need to operate. For example, light bulbs are available in a range of wattages (ie: 60-watt, 100-watt and 150-watt), depending on the brightness of the light.
Of course, how long a bulb or other device is operating also determines the amount of electricity used. The standard measurement of electricity includes both the amount and duration of power used. This standard is the kilowatt hour (kWh), the amount of energy consumed by a load of 1,000 watts operating for one hour.
kWh = The amount of energy consumed by a load of 1,000 watts operating for one hour.
1 standard light bulb @ 100 watts for 10 hours = 1 kilowatt hour
10 light bulbs @ 100 watts each for 1 hour = 1 kilowatt hour
Here's how the use of household appliances may impact residential electricity bills.
|ELECTRICITY USE||AVERAGE USE||
AVERAGE MONTHLY COST
|100 Watt bulb||6 hours/day||
|Microwave Oven||20 minutes/day||
|30-inch range||2 hours/day||
|New Refrigerator top mount freezer, 18 cu. ft.||Continuous||
top mount freezer, 17 cu. ft. circa 1988
|Clothes dryer||8 loads/week||
|Clothes washer (eg. heating water)||8 loads /week||
|Outdoor Hot Tub
|Computer & printer||3 hours/day||
|Television: 26” colour||4 hours/day||
|Furnace Fan||Normal heat cycle||
The generation of electricity, is measured in megawatts (MW)
MW = 1,000 kilowatts
For example, a generator with capacity of one megawatt produces one-megawatt hour (MWh) when it runs consistently for one hour. Thus, if it runs consistently for a year (24 hours x 365 days) it produces 8,760 MWh (8,760,000 kWh) in a year. That's enough power to meet the annual consumption needs of about 1,000 homes.
|Electric Energy & Standard Unit|
|1 watt = standard unit of electrical energy|
|1,000 watts = 1 kilowatt|
|1,000 kilowatts = 1 megawatt (1,000,000 watts)|
|1,000 megawatts = 1 gigawatt (1,000,000,000 watts)|
Examples of Electricity Use
|CONSUMER TYPE||AVERAGE USE|
|Average Alberta residence||600kWh/month|
|A city block consisting of 20 houses||13,000 kWh/month|
|Convenience store||2,200 kWh/month|
|12-story office tower||300,000 kWh/month|
|High rise apartment||90,000 kWh/month|
|Elementary school||21,250 kWh/month|
|Seniors lodge||30,000 kWh/month|
|Large industrial||32,500,000 kWh/month|