February 3, 2014 8:11 pm

Manitoba Hydro bills spike

Winnipeggers are feeling a chill when they get their Manitoba Hydro bills.

Walther Bernal / Global News

WINNIPEG – Winnipeggers are feeling a chill when they get their Manitoba Hydro bills thanks to our record-breaking winter.

Some homeowners are paying close to $700 a month for electricity and natural gas.

“A big old house like this, a three-storey house, it sucks the heat pretty good, but what are you going to expect? It’s cold,” said one Wolseley homeowner.

Some landlords are warning their tenants to lower their consumption.

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“He said, ‘My heating bills are like $1,000 a month,’ ” said a renter. “I’ll do what I can, but it’s the weather. There’s no getting around it — it’s just hideously cold.”

Manitoba Hydro officials also point to the weather as the reason for high bills.

“Your furnace is on more, you’re going to plug your car in more, even if you have a gas furnace, the blower will be running more, if you have supplemental heat like baseboards, like I do in my basement — all of those things contribute to increased energy consumption and it’s just the nature of the weather,” said Scott Powell of Manitoba Hydro.

Last month when the mercury dipped to -35 C, Manitobans used a record-breaking 4,719 megawatts of electricity in one day.

The only ways to get around consuming that much is to cut back on cranking the heat and make home improvements.

“Doing the good old plastic on the windows if you don’t have good windows makes a huge difference on your drafts,” said Lindsay Stewart, of Manitoba Green Retrofit.

Homeowners are using this advice and reaping the rewards.

“It just keeps the drafts from coming in. It makes a heck of a difference,” said a Wolseley homeowner.

But some can’t afford to invest in home improvements.

“It is expensive and it can make a big difference in a family’s income when they’re paying $300 a month on their hydro bill. People will lose their homes because of heating, which is not something we should allow,” said Stewart.

He suggests joining Manitoba Hydro’s Equal Payment Plan (EPP) to stop the fluctuating monthly totals.

“We will break their payments in equal monthly installments based on their yearly consumption, so it’s a good way to spread out those numbers over the course of the year,” said Powell.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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