With ‘everything’ turned off, quite a few pennies are still going to Hydro


The TV, computer and stereo are all off. The heat pump, dishwasher and exhaust fans aren’t running. The fridge and hot water heater are resting. Everything in the house powered by electricity seems to be off.

But many things are still quietly, inconspiciously sipping electricity. Using the monitoring device that B.C. Hydro has been promoting, I’ve found that we’re still spending between 0.8 cents to 1.5 cents an hour for electricity when the household shuts down for the night. (B.C. Hydro uses a two-tier rate system; you are charged a higher rate once you hit a certain usage threshold. This system accounts for part of the variation here.)

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Among the things that keep the electricity flowing: Wi-Fi transmitter; cable TV box, TV, stereo amplifier, central vaccuum, computers in standby mode; microwave clock; landline phone and answering machine.

Calculating the standby cost based on 1.5 cents an hour, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, that’s $131.40. Cut that in half to acknowledge times when things are in use and it’s still enough to buy several meals.

But shutting things off takes effort and causes inconvenience. Having to turn the Wi-Fi transmitter on and off every day would be a pain. Cutting power to the cable box brings the risk of missing a show I want to record. The landline phone needs to work in case there’s an emergency. I am too impatient to wait five minutes for my computer (it’s an older model with a spinning hard drive) to completely boot up.

For now, for the convenience, I’m letting the electricity trickle. There are power bars that have a master socket, and three or four other sockets linked to the master. Turn off the device plugged into the master and power is cut to the linked. This could work for me if the TV was the master, and the DVD player, Apple TV, and Chromecast stick are in the linked sockets: the TV has to be on for the other devices to be useful. I'm considering it.

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March 6, 2015 update: It's the last weekend for the Victoria Dine Around promotion, where three-course meals are on offer for $20, $30, $40 and $50. (The last day is Monday, March 9.) A lot of the meal packages are a bargain. In my experience, you need to reserve early at the more popular restaurants. For example, I just phoned a place and was told only 5 p.m. and 5:15 p.m. slots were available for Saturday night. I've heard that there is a good bit of pressure for restaurants to participate because if they don't, business during a slow time of the year becomes even slower. But the ones that offer the promotion are often packed.

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