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With a few changes at home, you could lower your electricity bills

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BC Hydro community team member Janet Zhu offers a few tips on how to save money on your BC Hydro bills, starting with how to learn more about the way you use energy.

Tips & ideas on how to more than offset that April 1 rate increase

Janet Zhu
For bchydro.com

As of April 1, BC Hydro increased residential rates by 4%, which for the average residential customer, adds up to about $4 per month.

It's all part of a 10-year rates strategy that will allow us to spend about $2.4 billion a year in upgrading our aging electrical system. It's work that has to be done, but we also understand that for many British Columbians, a higher energy bill is never good news.

So we've come up with a variety of ideas, including some no-cost and low-cost ways you can help offset this year's rate increase. And because a few small changes can really add up, it's possible you may even be able to spend less on electricity this year than you did in the previous 12 months.

Start by tracking your energy use online

To start tracking your electricity use on bchydro.com, you'll first need to create an online account. If you have one already, log in to MyHydro and select view detailed consumption to access our electricity tracking tools.

With electricity use tracked by the month, day or right down to the hour, you can get an idea of how your daily routines and activities affect your bill. For example, you'll find out how those two loads of laundry you did yesterday translated into a spike in that day's usage. And you can do a bit more sleuthing, using bchydro.com's Cost Calculator, to find out just how much your washer or dryer is using. (Here's a tip: If you're using a clothes dryer, that's where you're biggest laundry cost will be, in terms of electricity use. Hang-drying laundry is one quick way to start cutting your energy costs.)

As a BC Hydro customer, you can go even deeper into electricity tracking. Buy a Home Energy Monitor to have the real-time information on your electricity use, in kilowatts or in dollars and cents, when you turn on and off lights and appliances.

Once you have a better idea of your electricity use and its costs, it's time to think of saving.

Counting the beans: 21 no and low-cost tips

The easiest way to save on energy is to change a few habits.

Our 21 tips page should be your go-to list for saving electricity without having to spend money on bigger-ticket items like upgraded appliances or the insulation in your home. If you did all 21 changes, you could save up to $500 a year, but even if you do a few, it could be enough to offset this year's rate increase.

Small projects can make a big difference

There are many small, relatively easy, projects you can do to save energy and money.

Do you feel drafty at some places in your house? Air moves through the gaps around windows and doors, taking the heat with it. Unwanted air movement makes it hard to keep the room at a comfortable temperature, and costs you more for heating in winter and cooling in summer. You can easily draft proof your house using window film, caulk or spray foam.

Don't miss out on our do-it-yourself projects page and our new videos that will show you just how easy it is to deliver on these upgrades.

How about a $50 reward for your efforts?

Now that you're changing the way you use electricity to trim your electricity bills, why not try to earn a $50 reward for your efforts? Here's how it works.

Join Team Power Smart and, if you've had a BC Hydro account at your current address for at least 12 months, start a 10% Reduction Challenge. If you can decrease your electricity use over the next 12 months, compared to the previous 12 months, you could earn a $50 reward.

And as you may need a little encouragement, and more ideas, along the way, don't forget to subscribe to our monthly Connected eNewsletter. It's full of energy saving ideas and news about BC Hydro.

Janet Zhu is a member of BC Hydro's community team.