Take a Closer Look at Your Electricity Use – Online

I read an article a while ago in one of the local papers, which was another critique of time of use electric metering. It concluded, like I did in an earlier blog article, that the largest household uses of electricity can’t be easily shifted to a lower rate.

I promised to revisit the topic of hydro bills once winter set in to gauge the impact of time-of-use (TOU) billing.  Other than doing most laundry on the weekends, our household hasn’t tried to shift much activity to off-peak hours. When time-of-use billing was introduced, the billing cycle shifted to the month-end so year-to year comparisons are not directly comparable. So far, there has been no significant difference between my time-of-use bill compared to the flat-rate bill from a year ago. Although our household used the same number of Kwh per day, the total electric charge is higher as well as all of the other charges not related to time-of-use, i.e. delivery, regulatory and debt retirement charges.

Looking more closely, the two bills are comparable because of the 10% “Clean Energy Benefit” which essentially cancels most of the HST charge. A year ago, the winter hydro rate was in two tiers at 6.4 and 7.4 cents per kWh. The TOU rate varies from 5.9 to 10.7 cents per kWh. In the latest month, about two-thirds of my bill was charged at the lowest off-peak rate. (Weekends account for about 28% of the time per month which is billed at the lowest rate.)

Month's electricity consumption (bars) plotted against temperature (line)

Now Innisfil Hydro customers can access a visual display of their power consumption data online. First, you’ll need to sign up for an online account (you’ll need your account number from your bill). Then you’ll be able to log on under “Account Log-in” and once you’re logged in, click on “Customer Connect” (menu, bottom left). I tried it out and saved a sample chart, shown above. It illustrates power consumption for a month plotted for each time-of-use rate. You can also view household electric consumption by week or by day. Features let you plot weather data (temperature) against your power use, too.

Electric consumption vs. weather temperature

What my chart shows me is that my power consumption is partly dependent on weather conditions: lower temperature = higher consumption; higher temperature = lower consumption. That’s the effect of the furnace kicking in, or not.

So far, into December, the weather has been pretty mild. Thanks, Mother Nature! The bottom line is, energy conservation – insulation, passive solar gain, and solar thermal can be wise investments that will pay for themselves over time.

Published earlier:

The First Time-of-Use Electric Billing

Building Capability for Building Passive Houses