Cold snap leads to record-breaking electricity demand

BC Hydro has set a new record for the highest peak hourly demand for electricity.

The new record for peak hourly demand – the hour customers use the most electricity – was reached on Monday night when consumption reached 10,302 megawatts.

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The previous record was set on Jan. 3, 2017, when electricity peaked at 10,194 megawatts.

With below-freezing temperatures and more snow expected during the next few days, the demand for electricity is expected to remain high. BC Hydro is expecting peak loads between 9,800 and 10,600 megawatts. Monday’s peak load is 16 per cent higher than the previous week.

BC Hydro records the highest demand for electricity on weekday evenings when British Columbians come home, turn up the heat, switch on the lights, do laundry and make dinner. Residential electricity can increase, on average, by 88 per cent in the colder, darker, winter months. This can lead to higher heating costs for customers.

BC Hydro is reminding customers there are simple ways to reduce electricity use during the winter, including:

  • Setting thermostat at an ideal temperature based on time of day can help reduce wasted electricity: 16 degrees Celsius when sleeping or away from home; 21 degrees Celsius when relaxing, watching TV; and, 18 degrees Celsius when doing housework or cleaning
  • Avoid cranking up the thermostat – cranking up the thermostat does not heat the home up faster than turning it up a degree or two at a time
  • Draft-proofing around windows and doors to reduce heat loss by 10 per cent.

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