Cold weather = peak electricity demand = tips for lowering pressure on the grid and your hydro bill

With the sustained cold temperatures provincewide, there is currently a very high demand for electricity. BC Hydro customers are encouraged to keep some easy electricity conservation tips top of mind while staying warm. Efficiency with non-essential power use is more important than ever during a cold snap in order to ensure that our power supply remains reliable for essential needs.

On Monday night, the hourly peak demand — 9,877 megawatts — was recorded between 5 and 6 pm representing an increase of more than 1,900 megawatts over the peak a week earlier. BC Hydro has systems in place to meet this unusually high demand and provide reliable power, but with a few simple measures, everyone can contribute to lessening the stress on the electrical grid and still stay warm.

Here are a few simple ways to manage down home electricity use in cold temperatures:

1.  Timing (and timers!) are, indeed, everything

  • Use high-energy household appliances — such as clothes washers and dryers, dishwashers and portable space heaters — outside of the peak hours of 4 to 8 pm. If you must use them, try to only use one at a time.
  • Timers: Put holiday lights and all outdoor lighting on a timer, or install a motion sensor for security lighting.
  • Programmable thermostat: Install a thermostat that can be programmed to set times. Set the thermostat to automatically adjust temperatures at different times based on your family’s activities, ensuring electricity is not wasted when no one is home.

2.  Keep the cold out and the heat in

  • Keep windows covered with closed 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. Easy-to-install window film provides an additional pane to keep heat in.
  • Draftproof your home, one of the easiest and most inexpensive ways 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.

3.  Switch it up; do things differently

  • Changing behavior saves energy, including: washing clothes in cold water; turning off the dishwasher’s heated-dry option; taking shorter showers and turning off lights and unplugging small appliances and electronics when they are not In use.

4.  Choose inexpensive, energy smart lighting

  • Use energy efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs — they consume 75 per cent less electricity than incandescent bulbs.
  • Switch to holiday LEDs that use 95 per cent less electricity than incandescent lights and last 10 times longer — and make sure your holiday lights are on a timer.

Seem like small measures?  Individually, they are but multiply each one by 1.8 million BC Hydro customers, and the electricity savings add up quickly.  What’s more, the overall pressure on the grid, particularly in cold weather — and the amount on a monthly electricity bill — can also go down significantly.