Your home energy consumption and the amount you pay on energy bills is based on many factors: size of home, energy efficiency of the home, type of heating system you use, the fuel type (electricity, gas, oil, propane) you use for space and hot water heating, the number of people living in your home and how house occupants use energy for space and water heating, appliances, lighting, cooking, bathing, etc.
There are many reasons why your energy bills may be higher than expected, or higher than you would like:
- Insufficient insulation in your walls or attic
- Air leakage issues
- Inappropriately sized heating system
- Inefficient space heating system
- Inefficient hot water system
- Heat loss through inefficient windows
- High consumption of hot water for laundry and bathing
- Other energy uses: hot tubs, space heaters, water pumps, energy used in workshops or outbuildings, etc.
Winter Energy Bills
During the winter months we experience colder and darker days which can increase your home’s energy consumption. Your bills tend to be higher during colder months because:
- It takes more energy to maintain a comfortable temperature in your home
- Space heaters may be used to supplement the home’s primary heating system
- Lights are left on longer from spending more time in your home and using lighting for longer periods during dark winter months
Changes in Billing and/or Utility Rates
If you notice that your utility bill is higher, even though your energy consumption was similar to your previous bill, then you should look for other changes in your utility bill, such as:
- An increase in your utility rate (how much you are charged for a given unit of energy consumption compared to your past energy bills).
- Longer billing period length. You may have been charged for more days in your most recent billing period compared to previous bills.
- Delayed meter reading. If your utility provider does not read your meter for a given billing period, they will make an estimate of your home’s energy consumption based on your history. The estimate may be higher than expected, but your bill should be adjusted the next time your meter is read.
Changes in Home Dynamics that May Impact Your Energy Bill
Some questions to ask yourself are:
- Have you had visitors recently or tenants that have moved in?
- Have you added any new appliances?
- Are you completing any upgrades or renovations for your home?
Answering yes to any of the above questions could explain why your energy bills have increased.
Solutions to high energy bills include:
- Draftproof your home – reducing drafts and air leakage into your home you will save energy, improve home comfort and save on your energy bills.
- Monitor your home energy consumption – installing a home energy meter or signing up for BC Hydro’s MyHydro service to monitor your usage and pinpoint peak energy consumption periods. You may identify a spike in your energy consumption that helps you understand you high energy consumption. For example, does your energy consumption spike on Sunday, the same day you do all your laundry?
- Complete an EnerGuide Home Evaluation – an energy evaluation helps you identify options to reduce energy bills.
- Hire a contractor to complete energy efficiency upgrades for your home – depending on your home’s energy upgrade needs – insulation, heating and water systems, and window upgrades can all contribute to reducing energy consumption, which leads to smaller energy bills.
- Complete simple DIY upgrades – are you handy around the house and have some time for home improvements – Small changes add up and many changes can be done as Do-It-Yourself projects, see our DIY FAQs and Drafproofing FAQs for more information.
- Alter occupant behaviour – there are many steps you can take to reduce your energy consumption. Reduce the number of laundry loads or use cold water, consider hanging laundry on a clothes line, unplug electronics when not in use, turn off lights when you leave a room, take shorter showers, reduce the use of space heaters in occupied rooms, etc.
Did you see a building science or energy efficiency term you did not understand? Check out our glossary.