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Power couples: British Columbians quarrel over home energy use

VANCOUVER: New BC Hydro research shows many couples in B.C. are engaged in power struggles over home energy use – from room temperature and lights left on to running the dishwasher half full.

The survey1 conducted on behalf of BC Hydro finds over a quarter (26 per cent) of British Columbians who are in a relationship said they regularly have energy-related disagreements with their partner at home. Of those who have home energy disagreements, some of the most common contentions are related to heating and cooling, including overall home temperature being too hot or cold (64 per cent) or their partner letting cold air in by keeping a door or window open (32 per cent).

Failing to flip the off switch on lights or electronics is another source of conflict. For example, almost two-thirds have argued about lights being left on when leaving a room and over a quarter have argued about leaving the TV on. Water use is another sore spot – 16 per cent said they have argued with their partner because they used all the hot water for showering or bathing, and many have disagreed about the washing machine (24 per cent) or dishwasher (12 per cent) being used too frequently, or when not full.

Over half (52 per cent) of couples said they have energy-related arguments at night. The top disagreements include the room being too hot or cold (34 per cent), their partner leaving a fan on all night (11 per cent), their partner watching or listening to something on their phone well past bedtime (10 per cent), a bedside lamp being left on after their partner falls asleep (9 per cent) or the TV being left on (8 per cent).

While energy use quarrels are common, many couples are planning a détente for Valentine's Day.

BC Hydro suggests the following to help keep the peace:

  • Taking some temperature recommendations: BC Hydro recommends setting the thermostat at 21 degrees Celsius when relaxing or watching TV, 18 degrees Celsius when cooking or doing housework, and 16 degrees Celsius when away from home or sleeping.
  • Considering a heat pump: a heat pump can both heat and cool efficiently, and they are environmentally friendly too, thanks to BC Hydro's clean hydroelectricity.
  • Skipping the heat: running a full load is the most efficient way to use the dishwasher but skipping the heat dry function can cut its electricity use in half.
  • Draftproofing: 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.
  • Lighting smart: use energy-efficient LED lighting inside and outside and put timers on the outdoor lights so they do not remain on the entire day.

For more energy saving tips, visit

BC Hydro Media Relations
p. 604 928 6468

1Online survey conducted by Majid Khoury of 600 British Columbians in a relationship in January 2023, margin of error +/-4%.