Electricity use is on the rise despite a mild winter

This increase follows the typical pattern of seasonal energy consumption

Forests between Osoyoos and Rock Creek B.C. where FortisBC workers are.

Crews working between Osoyoos and Rock Creek show how winter conditions can pose unique challenges for both FortisBC and its customers. — Photo courtesy FortisBC

Even during this milder winter, electricity use is up among FortisBC customers. Last week, electricity use increased by more than 26 per cent compared to the start of winter in November, and it’s been up 20 per cent or more since the start of December.

This follows the typical pattern of increased energy use in the winter in Canada. According to Natural Resources Canada, space heating accounts for more than 50 per cent of overall energy used in a B.C. home. FortisBC’s own research shows that for their electricity customers, use can increase by approximately 80 per cent in winter over summer if they are using an electric heating system such as baseboards, electric furnaces and electric heat pumps.

With electricity rates holding steady over the last three years, any bill increase is most likely the result of changes in use. Looking at variations in use across different times can help people understand how they are using energy and identify their best opportunities to save. FortisBC electric customers can investigate their weekly, daily and hourly electricity use patterns by viewing their account online.

This example is from a Kelowna customer who lives in a newer seniors apartment complex, heated with electric baseboards. He noticed a significant increase between this billing period and his previous one, despite relatively low use overall. Although he keeps his heat set low, it’s kept at a steady temperature day and night. Programming a thermostat to lower the room temperature when he’s not home or overnight may provide him an opportunity to lower his use. He can also opt for an equal payment plan and keep his bills the same and predictable, even as his energy needs change throughout the year.

Levels of energy consumption from FortisBC customers.

The levels of monthly energy usage from a FortisBC customer. — Chart courtesy FortisBC

If someone is having trouble paying a bill or has experienced a higher than expected bill, they can contact FortisBC for help. FortisBC works one-on-one with customers to help them determine the reason for higher than expected bills and find a solution that may include payment arrangements. Last year, FortisBC supported close to 150,000 individuals, all facing unique situations, set up flexible payment arrangements for their natural gas or electricity bills.

Customers with questions about their bills can contact FortisBC at 1-866-436-7847 for electricity and 1-888-224-2710 for gas. To learn more about how to monitor or manage your electricity use, visit fortisbc.com/winteruse.

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