We Owe What? Our Hydro Bill Shocker and What We Did About It
Written by Nicole Francis

Thursday, July 19th, 2018

We're a family of 5 living in Ontario's Durham Region for 20 years. Our family home is just under 2,000 sq ft, enough for us to comfortably raise 3 girls and entertain friends and family over the years.

Like many busy families, there's a lot to keep track of: work, school, extra-curricular activities, household chores, health, finances and more. That's why when we moved to our home, we opted to automate as many of our bills as possible, and for our utilities, this meant opting for equal billing, giving us predictable bill payments and a great way to manage our very tight budget.

A Shocking Bill

In June of 2017, we were horrified to learn that somehow, only halfway through the billing year, our household was using far more electricity than our billing plan estimated. To get back on track, we'd need to pay the overage of $500 and increase our monthly payments from $175 to almost $300 per month. How did this happen? What had changed so drastically?

Like so many other things, the cost over the years to heat and cool our home had been creeping up. For the most part, we were normally able to stay within the equal billing arrangements, and on the odd occasion, had a surplus at the end of the billing year where we had "under used". There were also times when we had used more than budgeted and had to pay an extra lump sum. But we could always manage through the adjustments and just kept going with the flow.

Emergency Fund to the Rescue

We dipped into our emergency savings fund to deal with the immediate $500 payment and then called a family meeting. We thought we were managing our energy use, but really, the truth was that we were all taking convenience for granted.

What were some of the things we were doing that we needed to cut out?

  • We ran the dishwasher at least 5 times a week.
  • We did laundry whenever we felt like it, day or night.
  • We left the hallway light on all night long.

We all agreed that we could do much better and set out to reduce our monthly bill payments. We easily cut back on dishwasher use, turned off the hallway light and limited laundry to evenings and weekends when energy costs were lower, and within a few months, could see that we were using less electricity and growing a credit balance with the hydro company.

Our Efforts Paid Off

This past June, we received a $669 credit from the hydro company! Our efforts had paid off. In addition to the credit, our monthly bill payment was lowered to $156.

What did we learn? We were all guilty of taking things for granted, and there was a very real "cost of convenience". Tackling the challenge as a family with a renewed commitment to conservation were the secrets to our success.

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