Stories & Features

Beat the cold snap without blowing up your bill

Downtown Vancouver, snow walker and Douglas Firs in Stanley Park.
When it’s cold enough to actually snow and stick to the ground in Vancouver’s Stanley Park, you know electricity use is going to spike. This month’s colder-than-normal winter temperatures in the Lower Mainland and on Vancouver Island have flirted with setting all-time highs for electricity use in B.C.

A few tips to prevent the drop in temperature from creating a major spike in your BC Hydro bill

If you live in the Lower Mainland or on Vancouver Island, you’ve been seeing a lot more of the white stuff falling from the sky than we’ve been used to in the past few years. You’ve been seeing the temperatures drop too; temperatures across the region are well below the seasonal average.
One thing we know at BC Hydro – when temperatures go down, the demand for electricity goes up. We set 2016 records for peak demand last week and came close to our all-time records.

The big reason? Heating costs go up, along with other electricity usage from things such as laundry and increased cooking. If you’re worried about this extended freeze affecting your BC Hydro bill, take a look at these tips and ways to save.

Winter heating tips can keep baseboard heaters in check

The best thing you can do to keep your heating costs in check is to heat your home efficiently. It’s especially important if you have baseboard heaters; they can account for up to 50% of your home's overall electricity use.

Even if your home uses another heating system, managing your thermostat will also go a long way in managing your costs. You may already know that turning down your heat at night when you’re cosy in bed is one good way to get started.

And when it comes to comfort, keeping drafts at bay will do a lot to keep your home feeling warm, particularly if you’re sitting still reading or watching TV. Proper weatherstripping around doors and windows is best, but in a pinch, a tightly rolled blanket or even a large towel along the bottom of exterior doors can make a good last-minute draft blocker.

Check out our full list of winter heating tips and a video on how to use baseboard heaters effectively.

Make your appliances do double duty and grab those slippers

If you’ve already got your programmable thermostat set and blocked off drafts, it may be time to get creative with how you can warm your home without turning up the dial. These tips won’t help you save big bucks, but they may make it a little easier to face freezing temperatures.

  • Doing some holiday baking or making a warm winter meal? If the oven's on, turn the thermostat down. Many ovens produce a significant amount of excess heat and can easily warm a room by several degrees. When you’re finished cooking, leave the door open or ajar to warm the kitchen and surrounding area (beware of small children and pets, and keep the door closed if this will cause a safety concern).
  • Hand washing dishes with a sink full of hot water? Consider letting the hot water cool and heat dissipate into the room before pulling the sink drain. This also works in the bathroom when you’re finished taking a hot bath, but again, keep safety top of mind. Skipping the heat-dry cycle on your dishwasher and opening the door to let clean dishes air-dry will save energy and send out some warmth too.
  • If you’re curling up on the couch with a holiday movie, grab a blanket or two, cosy slippers and a sweater. You’re more likely to feel cold sitting still than you are doing chores or moving around the house, and it can be tempting to turn up the heat. Snuggle up with blankets before you settle in on the sofa.
  • Wear slippers or thick socks at all times in your home, particularly on hardwood, tile or linoleum floors that are more likely to feel cold. If your feet are warm, you’re much more likely to feel warm too.