Smart meters help show home energy consumption

NANAIMO – Seeing data on daily energy use might help residents pinpoint where to cut back.

Smart meters are not popular for quite a number of people, perhaps for good reasons. B.C. Hydro paid far too much for them, and they admitted they did a poor job preparing people for the new technology. Plus, the meters do emit more high frequency radio waves than we were initially told.

Despite all of these problems, most of us now have them installed and so can use them to our own advantage.

These new meters are called “smart” because (among several reasons) they can help us be smarter about our electricity consumption. Given how power prices are again jumping in April learning how to cut our consumption is a good thing.

How? Access your B.C. Hydro account online, at home, work or the library. All you’ll need to do is get an online account by using your Hydro bill and clicking on ‘Create a MyHydro Profile’ at the top of its website (

As soon as you are logged in you will see a graph that shows you how much power you’ve used over the last few days. Underneath that graph you can click on ‘View Detailed Consumption.’

This is where things get most interesting.

You will see a graph showing your electricity consumption each day. Now it’s time to play – look above that graph and beside the ‘Compare’ button. Click on the box that says ‘none.’ It then offers you several options.

If you heat with electricity (baseboard heat, heat pump or electric furnace) then try selecting ‘Average Outside Temperature.’ Now you can see what a difference it makes when the temperature goes up and down. Note that December was as cold (on average) as was last January.

Here you can also see how much of the more expensive Step 2 power you’re using. You can also select to compare your home to other similar homes or apartments in your neighbourhood.

If you customize the ‘Current Billing Period’ to a day or two you’ll see your power usage each hour. By comparing this to what activities and uses had occurred in your home, you can see where the power went. See any spikes? These could be from such things as your dryer, kettle, washing machine, stove/oven, dish washer, blow dryer – or your teenager draining the hot water tank while showering.

From there you will be smarter about why your power bill is what it is. You are empowered to do something about it.

Now that’s worth celebrating.