Save energy and money this winter with FortisBC’s tips and resources
As the cold weather season approaches, FortisBC Inc. and FortisBC Energy Inc. (collectively FortisBC) are reminding customers of the proactive measures they can take now to reduce energy use and help control their winter energy bills.
FortisBC’s energy use records show that last winter’s peak hour system delivery for both its gas and electricity services occurred on December 22, 2022. Peak delivery periods represent the highest demand for energy placed on energy systems. Systems need to have the capacity to meet this demand to avoid disruption in services for customers. The gas system reached peak hour delivery at approximately 21,368 megawatts (MW) —the equivalent annual energy use of more than 750 homes. The electricity system reached peak hour delivery at 835 MW— a seven per cent increase from the previous system peak, set on December 27, 2021. The capacity to provide this amount of energy to British Columbians at a time when they need it most reinforces how important it is for the gas and electricity systems to work together for the benefit of British Columbians.
“Energy use tends to increase during the colder winter months when heating systems work overtime to keep our homes warm and comfortable,” explained Sarah Nelson, director, customer service at FortisBC. “To help keep energy costs down, we are encouraging customers to familiarize themselves with steps they can take to improve energy efficiency in their homes and businesses.”
There are low-cost and no-cost steps that customers can take to improve energy efficiency in their homes that can be easy to implement yet save energy all year long. These include:
- Reduce heat loss—use caulking and weatherstripping on windows to seal gaps and cracks.
- Heat only the rooms you’re using—close doors or turn down the thermostat in unoccupied rooms.
- Use a programmable thermostat—set it to 17 degrees Celsius when out or asleep, and 20 degrees Celsius when home and awake.
- Energy-efficient upgrades—consider upgrading to high-efficiency models when it comes time to replace equipment.
- Service appliances—regular maintenance by a licensed contractor will keep appliances operating safely and efficiently.
- Energy-savings programs—income-qualified customers can apply for a free home energy assessment and Energy Saving Kit filled with helpful energy-saving items.
As the province’s largest supplier of energy, more than 1.2 million customers across British Columbia rely on the energy provided by FortisBC to run appliances, heat water, turn on lights and heat their homes. According to Natural Resources Canada, space heating accounts for more than 60 per cent of the average household energy use. With the majority of energy use going towards space heating, it’s important to avoid any heat loss.
While colder weather can lead to increased energy use, it’s important to recognize that other factors can impact your energy use and bills. In addition to cold snaps, other potential reasons for a higher-than-expected bill include a change in rates, additional charges from installations or upgrades, additional people in the home or the balance from the previous unpaid bill rolling over to the next bill period.
“Whatever the weather, FortisBC is committed to finding energy solutions that meet the needs of our customers,” said Nelson. “If any customers are having difficulty paying their bills or experiencing a higher-than expected bill, we encourage them to reach out to our customer service team and we will work with them to determine potential causes and discuss bill payment options that support each customers’ unique needs.”
For customers looking to avoid seasonal highs and lows, FortisBC offers an Equal Payment Plan for gas and electricity customers to pay fixed monthly payments.
For more information on home heating and energy use, please visit fortisbc.com/winteruse.