Apparently electrical rates vary widely in this country. According to this month’s newsletter from our electric company, Hawaii has the dubious distinction of paying the highest rate at 30 cents per kilowatt-hour. Some lucky people in Idaho pay the lowest rate at only 6.7 cents per kilowatt-hour. The newsletter tells us that rates will vary from region to region and state to state, but that the current national average is 12.4 cents per kilowatt-hour. So we’re on the high end here.

Here are some of the costs listed in the newsletter for operating specific appliances.

  • Clock — 18¢ per month
  • Computer with monitor and printer — 88.2¢ per week
  • Lighting (75-watt incandescent bulb) — 7.0¢ for 10 hours
  • Lighting (18-watt compact fluorescent bulb) — 1.6¢ for 10 hours
  • Lighting (40-watt 4-foot fluorescent) — 3.8¢ for 10 hours
  • Radio — 12.5¢ for 10 hours
  • Satellite dish and receiver — $6.09 per month
  • Color television — 26.0¢ for 10 hours
  • DVD player/VCR — 2.6¢ per hour
  • Clothes dryer — 47¢ per load
  • Clothes washer (cold wash, cold rinse) — 2.8¢ per load
  • Clothes washer (warm wash, cold rinse) — 12.8¢ per load
  • Clothes washer (hot wash, warm rinse) — 34.2¢ per load
  • Dehumidifier (20 pint capacity during summer) — $14.99 per month
  • Portable space heater (1500 watt) — 14.0¢ per hour
  • Ceiling fan (lights off) — 9.2¢ for 10 hours
  • Bread machine — 7.2¢ per loaf
  • Convection oven — 9.2¢ per hour
  • Dishwasher — 22.8¢ per load
  • Freezer (manual defrost, 15 cubic foot capacity, older model) — $5.55 per month
  • Freezer (manual defrost, 15 cubic foot capacity, newer model) — $2.75 per month
  • Electric fry pan — 10.0¢ per hour
  • Microwave oven — 14.3¢ per hour
  • Range (oven) — 12.8¢ per hour
  • Refrigerator (frost-free, 21.5 cubic foot capacity, older model) — $13.86 per month
  • Refrigerator (frost-free, 21.5 cubic foot capacity, newer model) — $3.55 per month

Bumblebee on joe pye-weed

We thought it was amusing that all the costs listed in the newsletter are based on a rate of 9.33 cents per kilowatt-hour, and our company’s actual rates are slightly over double that… but it’s easy to figure the exact operating costs for any item using the rate YOU pay and this formula:

Wattage × Hours used per day ÷ 1000 = Daily kilowatt-hour consumption
Multiply the daily kilowatt-hour consumption by the rate you pay.

For example, a 1500 watt space heater:

1500 watts × 1 hour used ÷ 1000 = 1.5 kilowatt-hours
Multiplied by our rate per kilowatt-hour:
1.5 kilowatt-hours × our rate of 17.8 cents per kilowatt-hour = 26.7¢ to operate this heater for one hour

Now if I could just figure out how many hours a day those space heaters would need to run to keep us all from freezing!

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I’m doing a very similar analysis of my electric bill. It’s crazy, but I am now paying close to $400 a month for my place. And I really don’t use that much electricity!


Shirley (Choosing Voluntary Simplicity)

Jack, that does seem like quite a bill. You must pay a really high rate. At least hopefully you have good service… our electricity provider is one of those local energy cooperatives, and for the last two or three years we have had several power outages each month. We just received a letter from the company saying they knew the people in our area hadn’t been receiving the service they deserved and that changes had been put in place to make the service better. Time will tell, I guess.


Thanks for sharing this info. I am wondering what the cost is to run our AC as I did not see that one listed. We are in FL. and will hopefully not have to run the AC past Oct/Nov. We live in the central air oh about 7 months a year and sometimes more depending on the weather. If I could figure a way to keep this cost down it would be fantastic!

Shirley (Choosing Voluntary Simplicity)

Grace, here are the figures for the air conditioner:

Window air conditioner (12,000 BTU) 8 SEER — $28.25 per month
Central air conditioner (36,000 BTU) 13 SEER — $51.25 per month

We’re so concerned with how much it costs to keep warm, it seems strange to think that there are just as many folks concerned about the costs of keeping cool… but from these figures I can see that air conditioning is a major expense too. It’s too bad we can’t just trade some of your heat for some of our cold and even things out!

Michelle H.

Thanks for all this info. I was particularly interested in the a/c usage. We live in Texas and have opted for window units as opposed to central. Looks like we made the right choice. We’ll see!

Roger L.

I covered up my apartment patio windows with two fleece blankets and my A/C and Heating bills have been $50 per month cheaper for the past 3 years.