Stories & Features

One visit to MyHydro a month can help your business save

Image of commercial kitchen

What do coffee and electricity have in common?

In coffee-mad Vancouver, the battle for the coffee drinker – along with the margins involved in keeping your café afloat – can be fierce. That's why owners Matt Senecal-Junkeer and Sean Cunningham of Birds & the Beets turned to BC Hydro's free online electricity tracking tools for help.

Money saved on a BC Hydro bill can go a long way to the survival of a café, or any other business.

"There's a lot of small things you need to deal with on a day-to-day basis, so being able to dive deep into something like power usage takes time that a lot of small businesses don't have," Senecal-Junkeer says. "Having a tool that makes it really easy to analyze [electricity use] is a big help."

Starting a business in B.C. isn't easy. From setting up shop to paying the bills, you'll need to maximize all the tools at your disposal to keep a business in the black.

Customers who use our free online tracking tools can gain valuable insight into how they're using electricity. They can identify opportunities for energy-efficient upgrades and behavioural changes that will actually make an impact. And less money going to bills means more resources for staff barbecues.

Coffee shop owners delve into electricity usage

After moving in two years ago, the two owners decided to give our online tracking tools a try to see how their café was using electricity. "Everything we do is electric – it's not natural gas or anything like that – so being smart about when you turn espresso machines off or turn on power-saving mode and all that stuff, it does really add up and make a difference at the end of the month," Senecal-Junkeer explains.

Even if your business isn't in food service, chances are you could use more insight into how much electricity you use at certain times. Production shifts, heavy order times, busy seasons and outdated equipment can all play a role in how much electricity you use.

The good news? Free tools can help you find out more.

View different time frames to pinpoint big users

Looking at your electricity use graphs can tell the story of what's going on at your business.

Matt and Sean can log on to MyHydro and take a look at how the Birds & the Beets electricity use at the monthly, weekly, daily and hourly level. Each lens gives different insight into what's happening and can help a business identify usage patterns.

Identify large patterns by viewing your monthly usage Show caption
See how your electricity use changes week to week Show caption
Select the daily breakdown to see which days you use the most power Show caption
Investigate what might causing energy spikes throughout the day by viewing the hourly usage graphs Show caption
  • Monthly: Identify larger trends by viewing monthly usage. Do you do a lot of food preparations at the beginning of the month? For a coffee shop, seasonal changes might happen on a monthly basis (all those iced coffees and extra refrigeration costs show up somewhere). Watch how your usage changes between different months and you can even compare your electricity use to the same time last year.
  • Weekly: Perhaps there's one week every month that you spend running a particular production cycle, or are running more lights and computer equipment when you do inventory.
  • Daily: Are your espresso machines working overtime for the Monday morning rush compared to Friday? Log on and see which work days are the highest. This can help you pinpoint if there are specific tasks or elements of your business that use more power than others.
  • Hourly: This data is available online after 24 hours. Log on and take a look back at your previous day – you might be able to see what time you got to work and powered up the shop. Hourly data is a great way to uncover some of your biggest electricity users – spikes overnight indicate that equipment that runs all the time is using a lot – like refrigeration or HVAC – compared to computers or lights you likely only use when staff is on site.

Use patterns to make important changes

Once you've identified the spikes, you can do what Senecal-Junkeer and Cunningham did: figure out what's causing an increase in electricity use.

Most businesses have items that are constantly running, such as heating and cooling, refrigerators and lighting. Look at your business' consumption when the shop is closed to assess the amount of electricity being used by these always-on items. Finding ways to lower this can have a big impact on your bills since these items can make up a large portion of your overall consumption.

Screenshot of MyHydro showing baseline usage

To see their always on power use come down, businesses similar to Birds & The Beets could consider:

  • Plugging the espresso machine into a power bar and shutting it off after closing.
  • Upgrading the coolers and fridges to ENERGY STAR® rated models.
  • Installing a programmable or smart thermostat to automatically turn down the temperature after-hours.
  • Switching old burnt out bulbs to LED lighting.

Check in and check often

When you receive your bill, it's already too late to make any changes to reduce your electricity use for that billing period.

Seeing detailed and timely information about your business' electricity use on a regular basis can help you  quickly find ways to save energy and money. Set weekly or monthly alerts to receive emails reminding you to check in and view your usage. Aiming for at least a monthly alert will give you insight into what's been happening during your current billing period.

You'll also be able to use the projection tool to see your estimated electricity usage costs on your next bill so there are no surprises when the bill arrives.

How to get started

Log in to your MyHydro account and select the "view detailed consumption" button to check out your usage graphs. If you dont have an account yet, sign up here. You'll need a copy of your latest bill to link your account, or give us a call at 1 800 BCHYDRO (1 800 224 9376) for help getting set up.

Check out some of our success stories from businesses who have made changes to cut their usage. You can also subscribe to our Power of Business newsletter to learn ways to reduce your bottom line and see the latest offers.

Log in to MyHydro