Calculating Electricity Costs 101
Stay with me because now this article becomes a bit technical - I promise you I'll make it very easy later on. I'll start with breaking down a few physics concepts:
Volts, Amperes, Watts, And Kilo-Watts Simplified
Energy costs are almost exclusively calculated on a "kilo Watt-hour" (kWh) or "mega Watt-hour" (MWh) ratio (1; 2). The word "kilo" is derived from the ancient Greek word for "thousand", and, "mega" is derived from the Greek word "great"
To simplify those statements a bit, 1 kWh equals 1,000 Watts used during an hour of time. 1 MWh, moreover, equals 1,000,000 (1M) Watts during an hour - a measurement we won't need for this blog post's purpose.
You might think: "but what are 'Watts'"
Watts (W) are calculated by multiplying Volts (V) and Amperes (A). On a conductor, Volts measure the potential difference on two parts of a circuit. Amperes measure the number of electrons moving over that circuit.
In plain English, Volts can be envisioned as the speed by which the electricity is flowing over the grid. Amperes are the quantity.
As you now understand, using both A and V, you can calculate W. On a 230V electricity grid, such as in Britain, running devices at 4 Amperes uses 230*4 = 920W.
If you run that device for 1 hour, you're spending almost 1 kWh.
Simplifying Wattage & kWh
Most devices give you a Wattage in W, making it very easy to calculate the kWh. kWh is what I'll use to calculate electricity costs in the next section.
So here's another example:
Let's say you've got a 2,000 W (2 kW) device running for 2 hours. The energy consumption in kWh will be 2 kW * 2 hours = 4 kWh. Next up, I'll show you how you can use kWh to calculate your energy costs:
Calculating Electricity Costs Per kWh
Now my explanation becomes easier...
To know how much any electrical device costs in terms of usage, you have to know the price of 1 kWh that you're paying. Electricity costs across the world vary from 3 cents per kWh to 36 cents USD (3). In the UK, that price is 26 cent USD, or about 0.20 GBP (USD:GBP exchange rate May 10 2021).
Running a device that costs 800 Watts of electricity for 5 hours would thus set you back 800 * 5 = 4 kWh, or, $1 USD or 80 pence.
Different infrared saunas need a different Wattage though, as you've got very small and very big sauna units. To understand that principle, let's, therefore, look at a few examples:
Example: How Much Electricity Does An Infrared Sauna Use
Of course, I'll use our Clearlight Infrared Saunas International® units as an example.
One of our smaller infrared saunas, the "1-Person Essential", runs at 1,410 Watts. The "4-Person Clearlight Sanctuary Retreat Full-Spectrum Sauna", however, runs at 3,610 Watts. Of course, a huge spectrum of different models can be found between that low and high number.
Running that 1-person sauna for an hour costs you 1.41 kWh. Running the 4-person alternative, moreover, costs you 3.61 kWh.
(Again, running a 1,000 Watt device for an hour equals the energy consumption of 1 kWh.)
When we use the 20p price for one kWh of electricity, it would cost 20 * 1.41 = 28.2p to run the small 1-person sauna. The biggest 4-person model, however, would consume 20 * 3.61 = 72.2p per hour.
In most cases, people don't run their infrared sauna for an entire hour. After a 15-20 minwarmup period, the sauna runs for about 30 minutes on average, and somewhat shorter for beginners.
Let's assume you're running the sauna for 40 minutes per day. In that case, the smallest unit sets you back 28.1 * 66% (2/3rd of an hour) = 18.71p. For the biggest unit, that's 72.2 * 66% = 48.01p.
Yearly Costs Of Running An Infrared Sauna
I'll put these numbers into some more perspective: imagine that you're a fervent sauna user and use your sauna 5 days a week. In that case, the smallest sauna costs a little less than 1 pound to run each week, and the biggest sauna costs £2.5 per week.
On a yearly basis, with 52 weeks, that's £130 per year to run the biggest sauna we're offering. For a 1-person much smaller model, the price is £48.65, or just under 50 pounds.
So, even with very heavy use, infrared saunas are very energy efficient and won't cost you too much on your electric bill.
How Much Does It Cost To Run An Electric Sauna
Now here's the surprise:
Traditional saunas, like a Finnish Sauna, generally use much more electricity than an infrared sauna alternative!
A 4 or 5-person traditional sauna usually runs at a whopping 8-10 kW total power. For smaller units, obviously, you would be using less energy.
Nevertheless, these numbers do add up. A rough guesstimate is that a bigger model costs you 6 kWh per 40-minute session, which translates to 30 kWh on a weekly basis, and 1,560 kWh per year.
At current British electricity costs, that's £312 per year. Smaller units probably set you back somewhere in the £125 range.
Additionally, there's another issue with traditional saunas and the electricity grid: many conventional power outlets don't support wattage use above ~3,500+. Hence, you need to install a dedicated electrical outlet that's frequently used in industry.
Installing a power outlet that handles more than 3-4 kW in total - depending on the region you live in - is very pricey because you'll need an electrician to do that job.
I won't venture into the costs of such a job right now because it's beyond the scope of the argument I'm making in this article.
The winner of this story?
Well, if you like to lower your electric bill and support green energy, infrared saunas are clearly the better option. Infrared saunas are also easier to use from an energy grid perspective. Let's put these numbers and arguments into perspective in the conclusion though:
Conclusion: Infrared Saunas Are Today's Green Option
The average Brit spends £474 per year on energy, at 2,900 kWh - according to British Gas (4). If the average person would buy a small, traditional sauna, those numbers increase significantly.
A smaller electrical unit sets you back 1,560 kWh per year or 50% of your electric bill.
A 1-person small infrared sauna model, however, uses under 50 kWh when you're using it for 5 days a week per year. Electricity use therefore does not increase a whole lot with a 1-person infrared sauna...
So, smaller infrared saunas are really efficient. A 1-person sauna barely registers on the average Brits' yearly electric bill. Even if you'd spend 5 evenings a week with 3 of your friends in the biggest sauna we offer, you're spending less than 10% of the yearly average British energy budget on an infrared sauna.
For a Finnish Sauna, however, that number quickly increases. From a green energy and money-saving perspective, the infrared sauna is thus your best option by far.