Hydro:Timing is money

Time-of-use rates pose a new reality for households and businesses.

On June 1, 2011, Ontarians are entering a strange new world thanks to those flashing number smart meters and the new Time-of-Use electricity rates.
Intended to steer Ontarians’ electricity use away from big demand times during the day, promote conservation, and help Ontario make the switch to cleaner energy, Time-of-Use rewards electricity users who do things such as laundry between 9 p.m.-7 a.m., on the weekends or holidays, when the winter off-peak rate of 5.1 cents/kilowatt hour is in effect.

How it will affect you

Do the laundry or vacuuming during on-peak periods, between 7 a.m.-11 a.m.-or 5-9 p.m., and the rate you get charged is almost double: 9.9 cents/kwh.
There isn’t much of a saving by holding off and doing either chore during the mid-peak period of 11 a.m.-5 p.m., when you will pay 8.1 cents/kwh.
One slight change to the winter rates will occur Nov. 1. The off-peak rate will begin at 7 p.m., two hours earlier.

Just when you think you have that winter set of rates all figured out, though, the summer rates kick in May 1 and run through to Oct. 31. While there’s no change with the off-peak hours and weekend, the mid-peak period shifts to 7-11 a.m. and 5-9 p.m. weekdays, and the on-peak shifts to 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Think heavy use of air conditioners during the hottest part of the day and you can get a sense of the reason for changing the time periods during the summer.

Throw in the Harmonized Sales Tax, which adds 8% to utility bills, and the McGuinty government’s warning electricity bills are expected to rise about 3.5% a year over the next 20 years — and 7% a year over the next five years — and electricity is suddenly a very expensive, but necessary, product.
It’s enough to make you want to disconnect that beer fridge in the basement, erect a clothesline in the backyard, buy a box of candles, and start doing many things by hand such as using a manual eggbeater or hand-powered coffee bean grinder.

But what do you do if you have an electric water heater and electric baseboard hearing, or a geothermal heat pump system which are all powered by electricity?

And Time-of-Use rates are just for the raw electricity you use. The cost of the electricity is then combined with other things, such as delivery (usually more than the electricity cost), taxes and, for Hydro customers, the debt retirement charge, to produce the final total on your bill.
You will see it in August due to bi-monthly billing and thus be ready for a big shock.
The Ontario NDP has launched a campaign to take the HST off hydro and home heating bills, which they say would save an average family with two children $220 per year.

The reality is that working families will once again be penalized as they are not able to take advantage of the lower hydro rates due to work and family demands. Nonetheless there are steps that you can take to reduce your hydro consumption without sacrificing your comfort.

What you can do:

  1. Phantom power eats up quite a bit of electricity, consider a power bar with an on/off switch for your TV, DVD player, games console, etc.,
  2. Do a walkabout in your home, are there inexpensive more energy efficient options available for your bathroom or kitchen fan, light fixtures, etc.,
  3. Unplug those mobile chargers when not in use
  4. Take a look at your windows, window seals, make sure that they are in good order and that you have appropriate window coverings. Remember windows are the weakest link in any building structure thus insulating windows will pay for itself very quickly.

Please let us know if you have any ideas or suggestions on how to lower your energy consumption. We look forward to hearing from you.

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