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Extreme cold leads to record-breaking electricity demand for a second time this week

VANCOUVER: As the province remains in a deep freeze, BC Hydro saw the record for peak hourly electricity demand – the hour customers use the most electricity – fall for a second time this week on Wednesday evening.

Last night, preliminary analysis found consumption between 5 and 6 p.m. reached over 10,900 megawatts – the highest ever recorded.

“The extreme cold has British Columbians turning up the heat and as a result we are experiencing record-breaking electricity demand,” said Susie Rieder, BC Hydro spokesperson. “Last night’s consumption was more than 15 per cent higher than the peak hourly demand recorded last Wednesday before the cold snap began.” 

Before this week, the all-time consumption record was set in December 2021 at 10,762 megawatts, but on Monday the record was broken when consumption rose to more than 10,800 megawatts. Despite the significant increase, BC Hydro will continue to be able to meet demand for electricity across the province this winter because of its large integrated hydroelectric system.

Residential electricity use is typically at its highest in the colder, darker winter months, which can lead to higher costs for some customers. BC Hydro is reminding customers there are many ways to reduce electricity use this winter, including:  

  1. Manage home heating actively by turning the heat down when no one his home or when everyone is sleeping. Consider installing a programmable thermostat to automatically adjust temperatures at different times based on your household’s activities. BC Hydro recommends setting the thermostat to 16 degrees Celsius when sleeping or away from the home, 21 degrees Celsius when relaxing or watching TV, and 18 degrees Celsius when doing homework or cleaning. 
  2. Avoid cranking up the thermostat – it does not heat the home up faster than turning it up a degree or two at a time.
  3. Keep windows covered with blinds and drapes for an extra layer of window insulation. Window coverings can be a quick and cost-effective way to cut heat loss and block cold drafts.
  4. Draftproof your home to reduce heat loss. Use caulking and weather stripping to seal gaps and cracks around doors, windows and outlets to prevent heat from leaking out and cold air from coming in. 

For more information on how to save electricity and money this winter, visit