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Actions small and large can help you avoid high winter bills

Why is your winter bill higher? What can you do to save on electricity?

What's your New Year's resolution for 2016? We think cutting down on your electricity use is a worthwhile goal, especially as we head into the colder winter months.

While you're thinking about what you can improve in your life this year, take some time to make improvements to your home and make 2016 your most energy efficient year yet. Small and large actions can help save money this winter and all year round.

Ask the right questions

Have you ever received a higher-than-normal bill and you weren't sure why? There are many reasons a bill might go up, especially in the winter. Here are the first questions to ask:

  • Is your bill much higher than in previous winters? Make sure you're comparing kilowatt hour usage rather than bill amounts, since rates change over the years.
  • Have you moved or renovated? A home's air tightness can make a big difference, especially as temperatures drop.
  • Are you on an Equal Payment Plan? If your payments have been less than the amount of electricity you're using, you might see a higher bill when you reach your annual adjustment.

Low temperatures don't have to mean high bills

If you have electric heating, you can stay comfortable inside without making it tropical and driving your energy bill way up. Heating is the largest part of many people's electricity usage and it can be up to 44% of your annual electricity use. Use your baseboards strategically, and keep them clean to get the most out of them, literally and figuratively.

  • Look for opportunities to turn your heat down. Most people are comfortable at:
    • 16°C overnight or you when you're out of the house
    • 20 – 21°C when you're at home
  • Use a programmable thermostat. This low-cost solution helps manage your thermostat without all the work. You can also choose a new smart thermostat which will learn your routine and automatically adjust the temperature to minimize heating usage.
  • Close the doors and only heat the rooms you're in – don't leave the bedroom heaters cranked when you're in the living room.
  • Clean heaters are happy heaters. Turn the unit off and give it a good wipe or vacuum.
  • Don't underestimate the power of sweaters and slippers. They keep you comfortable at a lower temperature.

See 21 no-cost ways to save hundreds of dollars a year on your electricity bills.

Seal in the savings

Furnaces, heat pumps and baseboard heaters all use power to produce heat, but generating heat is only half the battle. Keeping the heat contained in your home is just as important as actually warming the air. Small and large upgrades can help keep the cold out and the heat in.

Make easy upgrades on your own and invest in larger projects to improve the envelope of your home; you might even qualify for rebates.

There are various ways to save when you do it yourself

After your heater has done the work, warm air can escape through gaps around windows and doors, meaning your heater might have to work harder to keep the temperature up. Draftproofing is a low cost way for you to combat these drafts.

Install weatherstripping to stop drafts from sneaking in around doors and windows, and pop off outlet and switch covers to easily install a sealer behind. Are your windows feeling drafty but you're not ready for replacement? Apply an insulator film to create an air space against your windows to help prevent heat loss.

Insulation upgrades can mean big savings

Upgrading your home's insulation can be one of the most cost-effective, energy-efficient changes you can make. Insulation helps make your home more comfortable all year round keeping the cold air out in the winter and warm air out in the summer. We offer rebates based on the R value you install and the location in your home.

Brighten your home while saving money

The winter season brings shorter days, and that means lighting costs can be on the rise. Choose the right bulb to keep lighting costs down.

If you're purchasing new light bulbs this year, look for LEDs to maximize efficiency and lifespan. LED bulbs are up to 90% more efficient than old incandescents and they last up to 25 times longer. You might be spending more up-front compared to other bulb types, but LEDs use less electricity and last longer saving you money over the lifespan of the bulb.

Check out our lighting comparison chart [PDF, 111 KB] to see the average lifespan of different bulbs and their annual running costs. Make an LED purchase this year and enjoy your new bulbs for many years to come.

Track your way to lower bills

Tracking your electricity use can help shed some light on a higher-than-normal bill, and also uncover ways to lower your consumption down the road. Add your profile and link your account online at bchydro.com to access MyHydro tools, including the ability to track your electricity use right down to the hour.

See how your electricity use changes when you use the clothes dryer or when you have a full house. Compare it week to week, year to year, and see how the outside temperature affects your bills. Studies have shown that when you track your electricity use, it's easier to save 10% or more a year.

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