Cold snap brings spike in electricity/heating needs

A drop in temperature means a rise in the use of electricity, and the current cold snap that's hit Victoria is no exception.

BC Hydro spokesperson, Karla Louwers, says the cold snap caused a 13% increase in electricity use during peak times on Sunday and Monday compared to last week. 

She says peak electricity use times is right when people get home from work, at which point they tend to turn on lights, turn up the heat, and either cook or turn on the TV.

She says they are able to look ahead, and predict how much power will be used, and Louwers says this week will be near record breaking.

"We have a team of engineers and they look at the forecast that's coming in, and we are forecasting that this week we'll be in near record breaking demand for electricity.  That's close to 9600 megawatts to 10,000 megawatts, and the record is just over that at 10,094 megawatts."

She adds that BC is fortunate to have a large hydro-electric system that let's BC Hydro respond to these demands.

Louwers also offers advise on how to cut down on the electricity bill during the cold weather, saying wearing extra layers is the cheapest solution, but monitoring the thermostat is also a good way to save.

"We recommend that when you're not home or sleeping, you have your thermostat set at 16 degrees Celsius.  When you're up in your house moving around, making dinner, doing chores, all those types of things, 18 degrees Celsius is the recommended setting.  And then when you're sitting on the couch with the blanket on your lap and slippers on your feet, 21 degrees is what we recommend."

She adds that another great way to save on heating is by draft-proofing your house. 

"Just sealing up the gaps and cracks around doors and windows that let the cold air in and the warm out is a really cost effective, simple thing that people can do to keep that heat in their house and reduce the impact on their hydro bill.  You can reduce your heat loss by draft proofing by up to 10 percent."

She says cellophane, weather stripping and caulking can be used to seal up the drafty spots.  Louwers adds that another cost-effective trick is to close the blinds or curtains, as they will act as an extra layer of insulation around the windows.

Louwers adds that for people can also benefit from programmable thermostats, which lets you "set it and forget it", without the risk of leaving heat running all day and night, and stacking up on the hydro bill.

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