Higher than expected bill? Common causes, helpful tools
Winter bills in particular can be higher than expected, but for the majority of BC Hydro customers, high bills can be explained by looking at past use, determining if there was a manual meter misread by BC Hydro, or by reviewing and updating an estimated bill.
Meter issues, while very rare, can occur. We work hard to put safeguards in place to prevent any meter that is not functioning properly from reaching our customers, and when that happens, it's our job to fix the meter at a minimum inconvenience to the customer.
If you've checked the common causes list and still have serious concerns about your bill, a customer service representative can work directly on your account and investigate any possible issues with your bill.
Most high winter bills can be explained with quick investigation of your consumption. Here are three steps to better understanding your bill, finding savings opportunities, and managing your costs.
3 steps to understanding your costs
To see how your electricity usage has changed, compare your current bill with your previous bill and a bill for the same time period last year.
Take a look at the total electricity use (measured in kilowatt hours, kWh) and your average daily use on the left of your bill. If your usage is divided into multiple time periods, add each period to find your total.
If your usage has increased, it may be due to changes in temperature, lighting, or even home renovations. Continue to the next step to find opportunities to save energy and money.
If your usage has stayed relatively level, your bill may be higher due to other billing factors, including:
Billing period length
Your bill may cover a longer period of time than your previous bills. You can see the number of days in the billing period with the meter reading dates on the left side of the bill.
Learn more about your bill
Meter reading estimates
Meters are typically read every one or two months. If we are unable to read your meter, an estimate may be used and a "Your bill shows an estimate" message will appear until we can read your meter and adjust your account to reflect your actual usage.
The left side of your bill shows your next meter reading date. You can also log in or register your account to see your meter reading information.
Changes to electricity rates, or the way you pay for electricity, can make your bill higher even if you use the same amount of electricity as you did before. Learn about how you pay for electricity.
You can lower your bill by identifying opportunities to use less electricity and making the most of Power Smart offers. Below are the top five reasons your usage may be higher:
Outside temperature can lead to increased electricity usage for heating, fans, or air conditioning. You can save electricity by sealing gaps and cracks with caulking, adding weather stripping and/or installing a programmable thermostat.
Annual payment plan adjustment
If you are on the equal payment plan, an adjustment will occur once a year on the date you signed up for equal payments.
If you've used more electricity than your equal payments have covered, your bill will show an extra charge to adjust for this difference. If you've used less, you may see a credit.
Guests and appliances
Having more people in your home can lead to greater electricity use. If you have a new baby, live-in relatives, tenants or house guests, your bill may increase.
New electronics and appliances, such as televisions, computers or bread makers, can also increase your bill. See what it costs to operate appliances and electronics.
If you've renovated your home, you'll likely use more electricity during the construction phase and because of the added living space – even if your renovations included energy-efficient upgrades.
Winter season lighting
Shorter days in the winter mean that your household lights are probably on longer. Energy-efficient light bulbs can help, as can motion sensors for outdoor security lights. If you enjoy holiday lights, choose efficient LED decorations.
Register online to track usage and savings
To manage your costs moving forward, you can track your electricity use and savings by logging in or registering your account.
Once you've logged in, you can:
- Analyze your electricity usage and find opportunities to save
- Track and download your past usage information
- See your past bills and payments
- Sign up for paperless billing, equal payment plan, or pre-authorized payments
And if you're not already a member, join Team Power Smart to get ongoing tips, exclusive discounts on energy-efficient products and more.
Still not sure why your bill is higher than expected? See our high bill page.
Need to discuss your bill? You can call us
If you have further questions as to why your bill is higher than expected, please contact our customer team at 604 224 9376 or 1 800 224 9376. Please note that because it's winter bill season, wait times may be longer than usual.