Stories & Features

Put 'use tracking tools' on your holiday to-do list

Graphic showing energy used in December 2016
When the weather outside turns frightful, it's a great time to see how that affects your electricity usage. A handy dropdown will show you how your electricity usage compares to the average outside temperature.

It's the perfect time of year to make a habit of tracking your electricity usage

This time of year, many of us are drowning in lists. Even if you're not playing Santa and checking your list twice, chances are you might have a to-do list to accomplish for the holiday season; a list of tasks to get through before you turn on your out-of-office message or even a holiday wishlist of items that you're hoping a special someone might put under the tree.

Not to pile on, but we've got one more suggestion of something to add to your to-do list: start making it a habit to check your electricity usage with MyHydro. It's the perfect time of year to see the difference in your usage – and tracking how you're using power can help you see a (positive) difference in your bills.

Cold weather, longer nights, and more home-cooked meals can all add up

For most of B.C., it was a milder November after some record-breaking cold temperatures to start off October. Skiers and snowboarders might delight in the arrival of snow, but for the rest of us, it can mean higher electricity usage as our heating systems need to work harder to combat the frigid outdoor air.

Even if you manage your thermostat closely or use a programmable thermostat, colder weather outside means your heating system needs to work harder to maintain the same temperature. You can see it for yourself if you take a look in MyHydro – use the "average outside temperature" overlay to compare your hourly usage to the temperature outside.

And that's assuming all the heat you're creating is staying in your home. If you've neglected your draftproofing, you could be letting heat escape, especially around doors and windows. Sealing gaps and cracks can help, reducing heat loss by up to 10%.

For those of us who are leaving the house in the morning in the dark and arriving home from work in the dark – chances are we're using more lighting, too. Lighting doesn't typically amount to a significant amount of your electricity bill, but it's a small part of why we typically see higher electricity usage at this time of year, even for homes with gas or non-electric heat.

All those small parts add up: in the winter months, we also tend to cook more (and not on the barbecue), hang less laundry to dry (using the dryer more), and many of us have family gatherings and houseguests to stay at some point during the holiday season.

Compare previous billing periods or this time last year to see changes

Photo of a child's feet with pink socks
Once you've figured out when you're using electricity, comparing to the temperature outside or previous time periods can help you pinpoint how and what is using the most power. Then you can decide whether to make changes – like grabbing slippers and a blanket instead of turning up the heat.

If you're one of the lucky ones who escaped B.C. for somewhere sunny and warm during last year's winter season, take a moment in MyHydro to compare last year and this year to see how your usage differed.

A lot of factors can influence how much electricity you use when you're not home, but most customers will typically see a drop in their hourly usage when they're away – no one is doing laundry, cooking up a turkey dinner, or settling in for a cozy Netflix binge on the couch.

Once you know how you're using power, and when, you can start to make changes to help you save power and money.

Some tips to help you start saving:

  • Heating: If you're seeing your usage spike when the average outside temperature drops down, check out our tips to manage your winter home heating.
  • Appliances: If you've pinpointed your hourly usage to laundry day or a big family dinner, our cost calculator can help you determine how much you might be spending on each item, and figure out if there are changes you want to make.

Win $150 to Best Buy to help you track your usage in this month's members-only Team Power Smart contest

Team Power Smart wants to help make it easy for you to start tracking your usage, so this month's contest prize is $150 to spend at Best Buy – perfect to purchase a new tablet to make tracking easy. If you're a member, log in to your Member Tool Box to enter the contest. If you're not, join Team Power Smart today.