Winter home heating tips

girl hugging dog looking out window

You may find your electricity bill going up during the winter months.

Increased heating and other winter energy habits (such as using more lighting for longer hours), can make the average winter electricity bill 66% higher than the rest of the year.

There are some steps you can take to heat your home more efficiently and help you avoid high winter bills.

See our tips for:

Baseboard heating

If your home has baseboard heaters you're likely already aware that they can be costly to run. In fact, they can account for up to 50% of your home's overall electricity use. Thankfully with a few simple tips – like turning them off in rooms you're not using, keeping them at an ideal temperature, and ensuring they're kept clean, can help keep your costs down.

Watch the video below to get more tips for using your baseboard heaters efficiently and read our piece 10 things you may not know about electric baseboard heaters.

Setting your thermostat

In winter, heating costs can go up by as much as 140% compared to the rest of the year. One of the most effective things you can do to control your heating costs is to manage your thermostat effectively.

A programmable thermostat is a small investment that can help you manage your heating costs by reducing wasted heat. Simply set it to turn on at the times you're home and turn down when you're out during the day, and at night when you're sleeping.

  • Setting your thermostat at the right temperature is important. Heating costs rise about 5% for every degree above 20°C (68°F) that you set your thermostat.
    • 16°C when you're away from home and sleeping.
    • 21°C when you're relaxing or watching TV.
    • 18°C when you're cooking or doing housework.
  • Set it and forget it. Set your thermostat to adjust at certain times of the day, like when you're asleep or at work. Have your thermostat warm up right before you usually get home in the evening.
  • Manage settings on the go. If you make spontaneous evening plans and have a WiFi-enabled smart thermostat, adjust it right from your smartphone so your home doesn’t get warmed up for your arrival.
  • Do you have baseboard heating or rely on portable space heaters? They can be inefficient, especially for large spaces. Make sure you're using yours as efficiently as possible.
  • 'Smart' thermostat "learn your routine." Thermostats like the Nest will learn your daily routine and automatically adjust the temperature for you.

Draftproofing your home

A drafty home is an inefficiently-heated home. If your home is losing warm air to the outside and letting cold air gust in, you're wasting heat. Sealing gaps and cracks can help, reducing heat loss by up to 10%. Plus, it's a simple job that only involves a little bit of work.

Here are some simple how-to videos:

Looking for other do-it-yourself projects to improve your home's efficiency? See our other videos.

It's also important to use window coverings effectively to minimize heat loss during the winter.

Using a space heater

Most portable space heaters use a lot of electricity so if the room you're trying to heat is large, or you have multiple heaters in multiple rooms, they can quickly rack up your bill.

Using our online cost calculator, you'll see that a 1,400-watt space heater used an average of four hours a day will cost you about $17 a month to operate.

To make the most of a portable heater, follow these tips:

  • Use it in a small or enclosed space.
  • Place it the corner of the room.
  • Keep doors to the room shut to keep the heat in.
  • Turn it off when you leave the room.

No matter what kind of space heater you're using, it's important to keep safety top of mind. Ensure it won't tip over, use it on a level floor, keep blankets and fabric away, and never go to sleep with the heater on.

Use MyHydro to manage your electricity use and save

Managing your heating habits is even easier thanks to energy tracking tools available in MyHydro.

You can see how much electricity you're using, down to the hour, which can help pinpoint when you're using the most electricity, and you can adjust your usage to find savings.

One family did just that, and their electricity costs dropped by 41% in a month.

Find out more about the energy tracking tools available in MyHydro.

Don't have a MyHydro Profile yet? Create a MyHydro Profile to get started with tracking your electricity use.

Are you winter ready?

As the temperature drops the cold weather appraches, we're here to help you get winter ready. We're giving away three prize packages on our social media channels  consisting of a $100 gift certifcate to The Bay (to purchase a sweater or blanket to help keep you warm and cozy), plus either a Nest Thermostat for a gas heated home, or three CaSa Caleo Wifi Smart Thermostats for an electric heated home. 

Here's how to enter on Instagram:

  1. Follow BC Hydro on Instagram
  2. Give the post featuring the contest a like.
  3. Tag a friend in the comments

Here's how to enter on Twitter:

  1. Follow BC Hydro on Twitter
  2. Retweet the post featuring the contest
  3. Reply to our tweet letting us know how you're getting winter ready

Here's how to enter on Facebook:

  1. Like the post featuring the contest
  2. Comment on the post letting us know how you're getting winter ready

The contest runs from November 12 until midnight on November 18 and is open to all British Columbia residents who are 19 years or older.

Full contest rules [PDF, 210 KB]