Track electricity use to help reach your savings goals
Online tools and monitors can help you keep energy use in check, just like tracking your fitness goals
Posted by Sarah Herb
When a new year rolls around, many of us like to set new goals for ourselves, such as to drink more water, catch up on some sleep or spend more time with loved ones.
This year, why not set a goal to start tracking your electricity use? By becoming more engaged with how you use electricity, you can save energy and money on your next bill.
Your online MyHydro account allows you to see your energy use on an hourly, daily, weekly, and monthly basis, up to the previous day. This means that you can see at which times of day or days of the week you're using the most energy, and if changes that you have made have affected your overall energy use.
Home energy monitors take electricity tracking one step further by tracking — in kilowatts, dollars and cents — in real-time. So when you turn on your oven, dryer, or even an electric kettle, you can see the increase in electricity use right away. And when you turn your electronics off, you can see the savings.
When you have a better idea of which activities are driving up your energy bill, it can be easier to choose which Power Smart actions to take within your home. Whichever tool you use, actively tracking your energy use can help you to save up to 15 per cent on your energy bill.
Tips to get the most out of MyHydro
MyHydro tracking tools don't just show your energy consumption; they show your energy savings as well. Try keeping a quick log of your daily activities in your home, such as when you're cooking dinner, doing laundry, or even getting ready in the morning (using the coffeemaker, hairdryer, etc).
You may notice that the largest energy spikes you see on your MyHydro account coincided with Sunday laundry day, or that you used much more energy than usual the day you cooked a large family dinner.
If you think you won't remember to check your MyHydro account, set an alert for yourself. Choose between weekly or monthly email alerts that will remind you to log in and track your consumption.
Another way to ensure you're using online tracking tools effectively is to use MyHydro's comparison tools to see how you're doing. You can compare your electricity use to:
- The average outside temperature, which can determine how much heating and cooling affects your usage
- Similar homes nearby, to see if you're in line with what most people use
- Last year's consumption, to see how you're stacking up compared to the previous year.
The "average temperature" comparison compares the daily average temperature with your energy consumption for that day. You can see how your energy consumption changes across the month or week with changes in outside temperature.
If you notice large increases in energy consumption on those colder days, it may be time to think about draftproofing your home, or adjusting your heating system. During the summer months, you might see spikes if you rely on air conditioning to cool your home.
The "last year's consumption" comparison can highlight energy savings by comparing your current electricity use with that of the same time period of the previous year. This can be especially helpful if you've made some changes since last year such as changing to more efficient appliances, adding a second television, or installing some draftproofing and sealing measures, all of which can make a difference on your electricity bill.
Perhaps you've added a roommate or an older child has headed off to university — you might notice a difference in how much electricity is being used.
If you want to know how your energy use compares to others in your area, use the popular "similar homes nearby" tool. This will show you how your energy consumption compares to the average of thirty homes in your area, with similar sized homes and the same heating type, such as a natural-gas powered furnace.
Home energy monitors for detached homes can give a detailed look at energy consumption
Another great way for some BC Hydro customers to track their electricity use is through home energy monitors, a new technology available to customers living in detached or semi-detached homes.
The monitors communicate with the electricity meter at your home so you can see your consumption data in real time. This enables you to make better choices about how you use electricity, because you can track the immediate effects and better determine which activities or appliances are contributing to spikes in your electricity use.
Currently, you can choose from two monitors from Rainforest Automation (a B.C.-based company).
- The EMU-2™ is a stand-alone display device that shows your electricity use on the built-in screen. Many customers find the traffic light-style display on the EMU simple to use and put into action.
- The EAGLE™ is a web enabled gateway device that allows you to see your electricity use on your computer, smartphone or tablet.
- For a limited time, you can get $35 off the price of either home energy monitor, bringing the price of an EMU-2™ to $35 and an EAGLE™ to $65.
Make sure to place your home energy monitor in an easily visible spot. That way, when you're doing routine activities around your house — cooking in the kitchen for example — you can see right away how much electricity your home is using.
Sarah Herb is a Community Outreach representative with BC Hydro who educates customers in the Lower Mainland about ways to save energy and money.