Cold weather quickly pushes us into higher-priced electricity tier


With the arrival of cold weather, it took just over a month for our household to burn through 1,332 kWh of electricity at B.C. Hydro’s Step 1 price of 7.52 cents a unit. We’re now into the Step 2 price of 11.27 cents.

Two-step pricing is part of B.C. Hydro’s effort to get us to conserve so that it can keep up with demand, minimize its need to buy higher-priced power from outside its system, and put off expansion of generation facilities.

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During a two-month billing cycle, residential customers are allotted about 1,330 to 1,350 kWh at the lower price. The exact amount depends on the number of days in the billing cycle.

Our house is heated with a heat pump, which requires electricity. During heating season, there isn’t much choice about whether we use electricity or not if we want to stay warm and protect the house from cold-weather damage.

The current billing cycle started on Oct. 25. I got an email alert on Nov. 30 that we were entering the higher-priced Step 2. So, we’re facing almost a month paying the higher rate. (We’ve typically avoided the higher rate on our July-August and September-October bills.)

Heat, via the heat pump, was costing about 20 cents per hour under the lower rate. It’s increasing to about 30 cents an hour with the jump to Step 2 pricing. When the heat pump runs for about 10 hours daily on colder days, that difference adds up. The conservation incentive isn’t very effective when you’re trying to stay warm and keep the pipes from freezing.

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More details about the two-step system in this post from July. The pricing system particularly affects residents of Vancouver Island because more households here rely on electricity for heating.

You can sign up for emails to alert you as you approach and then reach your Step 1 threshold. The alerts are available when you set up a MyHydro profile at

I know about the electricity consumption of our heat pump because we bought an energy monitoring device.

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My previous posts are here.


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