British Columbians are getting the message on saving power. We’re learning quickly that small things such as turning down the heat overnight and hang-drying laundry can go a long way to lowering electricity bills.
Unlike the monthly bill for your cell phone plan or cable or internet, your electricity bill isn’t a set amount each month (unless you’ve opted for a monthly payment plan). You pay for the amount you use, and that’s why it makes sense to look for ways to reduce your usage. When you use less, you pay less. It’s an easy way to keep your electricity bills affordable.
Our ability to actually see how much electricity we’re using, and when, arrived with the introduction of digital meters in B.C. The online electricity tracking tools available to BC Hydro customers uses the data provided by your smart meter to provide a breakdown of your daily electricity usage, right down to the hour.
In the past, you’d go about your days – switching on and off lights, doing loads of laundry and turning the heat up when it’s chilly – not really knowing how these actions would affect your bill. But by taking advantage of these online tracking tools, you don’t have to wait to receive a bill at the end of the month to see how much electricity you’ve used and how much it’s costing you.
If you set up your account online, your daily usage is presented in a bar graph format, allowing for easy day-to-day and week-to-week comparisons. See a spike in last Sunday’s usage? It’s likely due to having extra guests for dinner and doing those three loads of laundry. Out of town for a few days? Look at these days to see how much electricity can be drawn by the electronics you left plugged in and by your refrigerator when you’re not home.
Other handy features include an estimated cost for your electricity use at the end of the month, the ability to compare your home’s usage to similar homes nearby, or compared to the same day a year ago. You can even choose to compare your electricity use against the temperature outside – handy since for most of us, heating and cooling costs account for the biggest percentage of our usage.
These features help you understand how your daily habits affect your overall usage. With that knowledge, you can take steps to conserve before you get your next bill.
Top five ways to reduce your electricity use
Cutting back on your electricity use doesn’t have to be hard. There are a number of simple no-cost ways to save:
1. Manage your thermostat: Set your thermostat for 16 degrees when you’re away from home or sleeping and 20 degrees when you’re home. If you have electric baseboard heating, use very sparingly and only in the room you’re in.
2. Wash in cold and hang dry laundry: Did you know your dryer consumes the most energy per use out of all household appliances? Washing your clothes in cold water and then hanging them to dry is most efficient way to do laundry, and can help your clothes last longer.
3. Unplug electronics when not in use: Your electronics are still drawing electricity to keep timers, clocks, and programmed settings going even when you’re not using them. Unplug your devices when you’re not using them to cut down on wasted electricity.
4. Use smaller appliances: Use a microwave, toaster oven or slow cooker for smaller meals when possible as a more efficient way to cook.
5. Turn off the heat-dry setting: The heat-dry setting on your dishwasher is a hidden electricity sucker. Deselect it and opt for air-drying your dishes instead.