Having a handle on fixed household costs is important, especially for those in a homeshare arrangement who are sharing household expenses. That's why it's important to keep up-to-date on potential changes to fixed costs like hydroelectricity.
If you've seen a change in your electricity bill of late, then it's worth understanding why. As of June 1, 2020, the Government of Ontario introduced a new fixed electricity price of 12.8c/kWh for Ontario customers on time-of-use pricing. According to the Ontario Energy Board, this price change is expected to be in effect until October 31, 2020.
Having the same price apply all hours of the day is intended to help those people in the province who are working and learning from home. Whether this change will result in lower electricity bills really depends on each person's own unique situation. The point is that whether your bills are up or down, it's important to have a conversation with those you share your home with to discuss the gap and how it will impact you.
1. Track Your Hydro Costs
Considering that hydro usage fluctuates, especially with the seasons, it can be difficult to tell if you're really paying more or less than usual. The best way to compare rates is to look at use in a specific month compared to the year(s) before. Tracking your hydro expenses over time will help you identify and even anticipate fluctuations in costs. The more you understand these fluctuations, the more you can accurately budget for them. When it comes to tracking your hydro costs there are a few options:
Some people love spreadsheets, and if this is you, get into the habit of entering the data from your hydro bill into a spreadsheet so you can identify trends and anomalies over time.
There are a number of different apps for your phone like Kill-O-Watts that will help you calculate your energy usage and more accurately predict your energy bills. Some of these apps will even pinpoint how much it costs to run individual appliances within your home!
2. Meet Regularly to Discuss Hydro Costs
Tracking your electricity expenses is the first step. Discussing these costs with your housemates regularly is critical to ensure everyone can budget accordingly and that both homeowner and housemate understand why the bill is what it is.
During these conversations, it's a good idea to discuss options to help your household navigate any ups and downs in costs. For example, if you have noticed a decline in your bill over the summer due to the provincial government's changes, you may wish to collectively save the difference, so that you have adequate funds ready when the price changes again at the end of October.
3. Find Ways to Save
It's also a good idea to discuss ways your household can reduce your electricity use. This strategy will save you money and will also help lower your environmental footprint. Tips from BC Hydro include unplugging unused electronics, managing your thermostat, hanging laundry to dry, and more.