No, it’s not a mistake. Your most recent electric bill really was that high.
ATCO Electric Yukon has been hearing from a number of customers wondering about their January bills, which appear to be much higher than usual.
As Jay Massie, the company’s vice-president of northern development and Indigenous relations, explained, many bills are higher as a result of three major factors.
“All these things come together,” he said in a Feb. 3 interview.
The January bill includes the holiday season in December, a time when many people are home more than usual using things like hot water, more heating and all those favourite electrical appliances — like baking those Christmas cookies in the oven. Not to mention any outdoor light displays residents might have up for the festive season.
That incremental use, he said, has an impact and tends to catch many off-guard come January when the bill shows up.
Add to that a cold snap which sees vehicles plugged in, heaters and furnaces firing up more often and more.
“-40 C or colder and usage goes sky high,” Massie said, pointing out records have been broken this winter for electrical use in the territory.
“We can see it on Jan. 6 of this year. We set the all-time high for electrical usage on our grid.”
And the third factor in what some might describe as a perfect storm for electric bills is the billing cycle itself.
“We always have a little bit longer billing period during the holiday season, you know, because that was Christmas and New Year’s. There’s more non-work days than than any other month,” Massie said, noting it results in a billing period of 35 days rather than the usual 30 days.
“Of course, in the next month you pay a little for a few less days. It all averages out through the year, I guess. But you feel it in January.”
Massie said there are times ATCO may not be able to access a meter that it will use an estimate based on previous use, but the actual usage is always calculated and applied to future billing.
While January bills can often come in high, Massie highlighted a number of ways residents can help keep their bills down in the future.
He first pointed to timers when vehicles are plugged in, programmable timers for household heat and things like blanket wraps for hot water tanks.
In terms of making bills a bit more predictable, Massie also noted customers can sign up for ATCO’s budget plan which averages a customer’s use over the year and divides it into equal monthly payments. At the end of a year, customers may be credited if they used less than what was averaged for payments or they may end up with an amount owing if they used more. Details on the program are available on ATCO’s website.
Contact Stephanie Waddell at email@example.com