As British Columbia (B.C.) experiences a colder than average winter season and recent snowstorms hitting earlier than usual, FortisBC Energy Inc. and FortisBC Inc. (together, FortisBC) is reminding its customers to become aware of their energy use to reduce higher than average monthly bills. Customers often experience their highest energy usage between January and March as these are typically the coldest months for most B.C. residents. That’s why customers often see their highest energy bills from February to April.
FortisBC set a new electric system record during the cold snap on December 27, 2021, at 777 megawatts (MW). This is 13 MW above the previous system peak, set June 29, 2021 (764 MW), and 31 MW above the previous winter peak of 746 MW set Dec 20, 2008.
“The low temperatures we experienced can cause heating systems to use more energy as they work overtime, which can result in our customers seeing seasonal energy bill spikes,” said Colin Norman, manager, conservation and energy management at FortisBC. “By proactively monitoring energy use and understanding how to manage it, customers can conserve energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save money year round.”
British Columbians use energy every day to control temperature, turn on lights, heat water and run appliances like space heaters. According to Natural Resources Canada, more than 60 per cent of the energy used in a home goes toward space heating.
FortisBC is encouraging customers to familiarize themselves with low cost and no cost ways to reduce heat loss in their homes, even on the coldest days. These include:
· Reduce air leaks and drafts by using caulking and weatherstripping to seal gaps and cracks.
· Close doors and vents, or turn down the thermostat for baseboard heaters in unoccupied rooms.
· Use a programmable or connected thermostat to reduce energy use when not at home.
· Consider upgrading to high-efficiency models when it comes time to replace equipment.
· Have appliances serviced regularly to keep them operating safely and efficiently.
Every household uses energy differently and there are ways customers can manage their energy use while remaining comfortable at home. Electricity customers can use online tools to help track electricity usage weekly, daily and hourly—helping them find ways to save energy. Natural gas and electricity customers can use the My energy use tool, through Account Online, to create customized action plans to help lower winter energy use.
FortisBC offers rebates on high-efficiency natural gas and electricity appliances, insulation, and windows, which can save energy and money, year over year. Customers with qualifying incomes can also apply for natural gas water heater rebates, furnace and boiler rebates, and a free Energy Savings Kit filled with helpful energy saving items.
If anyone receives a higher than expected bill, or needs help paying their bill, they are encouraged to contact FortisBC’s Customer Service team for help. FortisBC works one-on-one with customers to help determine the reason for higher than expected bills and find a customized solution. FortisBC customers can even set up an equal payment plan which averages out costs over 12 months, making payments roughly the same amount every month.
The more customers understand about how they can conserve energy in homes and commercial buildings, the better they will be at making decisions to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in British Columbia. Improving energy efficiency is a key part of FortisBC’s 30BY30 plan—the company’s plan to reduce customers’ GHG emissions by 30 per cent by 2030.
Customers can learn more about home heating and energy use by visiting fortisbc.com/winteruse