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Turn down the heat: hydro use can cause contention in the home

A BC Hydro survey shows that home energy use can cause friction in many households

To heat or not to heat? That is the question that often causes contention in B.C. households, according to a recent survey conducted on behalf of BC Hydro.

The survey shows that many couples in B.C. are engaged in power struggles over home energy use: everything from what temperature to keep the house at and what lights are left on to how full the dishwasher should be before it’s run.

The survey found that more than a quarter (26 per cent) of British Columbians who are in a relationship said they regularly have energy-related disagreements with their partner at home. Of those who have home energy disagreements, some of the most common contentions are related to heating and cooling, including the overall temperature of the home being too hot or cold (64 per cent) or their partner letting cold air in by keeping a door or window open (32 per cent).

Failing to flip the off switch on lights or electronics is another source of conflict. For example, almost two-thirds have argued about lights being left on when leaving a room and over a quarter have argued about leaving the TV on when no one is watching it. Water use is another sore spot: 16 per cent said they have argued with their partner because they used all the hot water for showering or bathing, and many have disagreed about the washing machine (24 per cent) or dishwasher (12 per cent) being used too frequently, or being run when there isn’t a full load.

Over half (52 per cent) of couples said they have energy-related arguments at night. The top disagreements include the room being too hot or cold (34 per cent), their partner leaving a fan on all night (11 per cent), their partner watching or listening to something on their phone well past bedtime (10 per cent), a bedside lamp being left on after their partner falls asleep (nine per cent), or the TV being left on (eight per cent).

While energy use quarrels appear to be common, BC Hydro has a few suggestions to help keep the peace:

Take some temperature recommendations: BC Hydro recommends setting the thermostat at 21 C when you’re relaxing or watching TV, 18 C when you’re cooking or doing housework, and 16 C when no one is at home or overnight when people are sleeping.

Laundry list: Wash clothes in cold water, and run full loads. When it comes to the drier, avoid “over-drying” your clothes by using the moisture sensor and/or timed drying functions. In warmer weather, consider hang drying laundry.

Don’t skip the dishes: Running a full load is the most efficient way to use the dishwasher, but skipping the “heat dry” function can cut its electricity use in half.

Draftproof: Use caulking and weather stripping to seal gaps and cracks around doors, windows, and outlets to prevent heat from leaking out and cold air from coming in.

Light smart: Use energy-efficient LED lighting inside and out, and put timers on the outdoor lights so they do not remain on the entire day.

Consider a heat pump: A heat pump can both heat and cool efficiently, and they are environmentally friendly too, thanks to BC Hydro’s clean hydroelectricity.

For more energy saving tips, visit

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