We got a power bill recently -- "hydro" to those in some other provinces, although that outs us as come-from-away-ers in this province -- that summarized our use at the new house from January 1 to mid-month. This was *before* we moved in, although it does account for heating the home up to habitable temperatures and washing many loads of clothes.
The bill was ... well, it was more than $200. This was a bloody shock, since our bill at the apartment was about $120 each two months. So, in two weeks, we'd used more power than in three months at the apartment. I couldn't believe it. Amanda said we needed to do something about it, but I was so much in shock that I just looked at the bill, muttering that it was "outrageous".
The culprit here appears to be electric heat. Most homes in NS are heated with oil. Natural gas is only now coming to parts of the province. Our neighbours have oil heat, but we have electric. And despite changing keeping the home heat at a near-frosty level, most of the qualifying bulbs to compact fluorescent lights and being diligent about turning lights off when we're not using them, we're going to be saddled with outrageous bills during the cold months. We got printouts the electricity usage from the previous two years, and it's clear we're in for winter power bills in the $700-800 range. Outrageous.
So, what's our solution?
We're still keeping vigilant about the lights. But the lights are not the real problem. It's the heat. We have the new HRV, which, as I understand it, is supposed to help move the heat around the house while conserving heat. We're also *not* heating certain areas we don't use. The spare bedroom is The Cold Room for now. We're keeping doors closed in areas that are not being heated. And we're keeping the thermostats low -- around the 15 degree celcius range. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it feels a lot warmer than that in here.
Nova Scotia Power has an equal-payment program, known colloquially as A Budget. We figure out what we're willing or able to pay each month to spread the pain over the whole year. Some months we'll pay a lot less than actual usage, and some months we'll pay a lot more. On average, though, the monthly payment should tally up to the actual use at the end of the year. If we overpaid, the budget will be recalculated to account for it at the start of next year. Same deal if we underpaid.
When we were considering the home purchase, we went over the numbers on hand and figured out the power would average out to $250. I re-checked the numbers, added 10% to account for a recent rate hike, and again it came out to about $250. NS Power did their math and came up with about $235.
So, our balanced household budget had a $250 electricity payment calculated into it -- so that's what we're paying. $250/month, every month, for the next year. Yup, it's about four times what we were paying in the apartment -- but we weren't paying for heat in the apartment.
Outrageous. But a dude's gotta stay warm.
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