People have no idea what a kilowatt-hour actually is (video)

Everyone knows what a gallon of gasoline is, or what they paid the last time they put fuel in their car.

But trying asking your friends, relatives, and neighbors how much they paid per kilowatt-hour in their last electric bill. Or even what a kilowatt-hour is.

We guarantee you that 19 out of 20 of them won’t have a clue.

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It’s relevant to green cars because charging the battery of an electric vehicle requires the purchase of kilowatt-hours of electricity.

We might suggest that electric-car owners are much more likely to know what their last kwh cost them.

But, in fact, the term “kilowatt-hour” itself turns out to be unknown—or at least deeply mysterious—to a whole lot of people.

Frame from video of man-on-the-street interviews with Portland General Electric customers

Frame from video of man-on-the-street interviews with Portland General Electric customers

Enlarge Photo

A video of “man on the street” interviews posted by Portland General Electric underscores that point with some gentle humor.

Stan Sittser, who’s in PGE’s external communications department, takes to a Portland park in a natty fedora to ask passers-by a few questions about their utility and its services.

Those include what PGE actually is and does, what in their home uses the most energy, and what’s most important about their electric service.

READ THIS: Car buyers have no idea electric-car charging stations even exist

But from 1:07 to 2:33 in the 4-minute video, he queries several Portlanders about the mysterious kilowatt-hour and what it might cost.

The results are almost uniformly composed of embarrassed ignorance.

One man does correctly define what a kwh is.

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And while not a single interviewee can name the cost of the kilowatt-hours they consume, one man on the street gets close to the truth.

“It’s not as much as I would imagine it to be, considering how much effort it takes,” he says, to keep PGE’s generation and supply network running reliably.

If you’re skeptical that the public may really be that unaware, try asking these questions to family, friends, and colleagues.

Frame from video of man-on-the-street interviews with Portland General Electric customers

Frame from video of man-on-the-street interviews with Portland General Electric customers

Enlarge Photo

We guarantee you that virtually no one will be able to say what they pay for the electricity they consume.

The Energy Information Administration says the average U.S. household uses a bit more than 30 kwh a day, by the way, costing an average of 12 cents per kwh.

We’ve been asking these two questions for a couple of years now, and the results are generally amusing—if indicative of how far we still have to go in educating the public about how you recharge an electric car.

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