British Columbia

Cold B.C. weather sparks 18% increase in power consumption

British Columbians are turning their heat up higher as temperatures go lower. BC Hydro says over the next week we could beat a 10 year old record for electricity usage.

Cold weather snap has residents cranking up the heat inside while temperatures dip outside

As temperatures, fall British Columbians are cranking up the heat. (Kevin O'Connor/CBC)

The snow may be blowing outside, but inside British Columbians are making themselves toasty warm by turning up the heat.

This first wave of cold Arctic air increased electricity demand by 12 per cent province-wide on Tuesday. By Thursday, that number had risen to 18 per cent.

With temperatures expected to stay low throughout next week, Mora Scott of BC Hydro believes usage could go even higher.

"We're preparing for peak loads of 9,900 to 10,000 megawatts. To put that in context, the highest peak demand on record was November 2006 when consumption between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. reached 10,113 megawatts. So, we could actually get close to that record."

Demand for electricity is always highest in the winter months between 4 p.m. and  8 p.m. on weekdays. We come home, switch on the lights, do laundry, make dinner, watch some TV  and, of course, turn up the heat.

A good sweater can help keep you warm, but, according to Scott, there are other steps we can take to offset the use of electricity and save some money on our hydro bills at the same time.

"We recommend customers use a programmable thermostat to ensure you're only heating your home when you're at home. Other things you can do is wash clothes in cold water, turn off lights when you're not using them and turn off the heat drying function on your dishwasher." 

Residential energy consumption can increase, on average, by 88 per cent in the colder darker months.

Staying warm with a cozy sweater when it's cold outside (Steve Berry/CBC)