Frozen power lines

After shattering a record for power usage in December, FortisBC is offering customers some tips to help keep costs in check.

The company, which provides electricity either directly or through local utilities to most of the Okanagan, said it saw record demand of 777 megawatts at the depth of the Christmas cold snap on Dec. 27, 2021.

That was 13 MW above the previous record for system peak set during the heat dome event on June 29, 2021, and 31 MW above the previous record for winter peak set on Dec. 20, 2008.

January through March are the months with highest energy usage – and power bills – in the province.

“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, FortisBC’s manager of conservation, in a press release.

“By proactively monitoring energy use and understanding how to manage it, customers can conserve energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save money year-round.”

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.