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Energy 101

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The average home in Alberta uses 600 kWh of electricity and 10 GJ of natural gas every month. But what does that mean? Electricity is measured by kilowatt-hour or kWh. One kWh is the amount of energy 1,000 watts consumes in an hour. So, a 100-watt light bulb uses 1 kWh every 10 hours. Natural gas is measured in gigajoules or GJ. One GJ of natural gas could heat enough water for 150 bathtubs!

But your consumption influences more than just your monthly energy charges. Parts of your delivery charges are tied to how much energy you use each month. Decreasing the amount of energy you consume will have a positive impact on many areas of your bill.

 

Winter Energy Bills

In Alberta, the average home uses a lot more natural gas and electricity during the winter. It’s no surprise the colder it gets, the more energy you need to keep your home comfortable. But there are other reasons why you might see higher bills in winter:  

Demand. You—and your neighbours—use more energy at peak times. In fact, Alberta hit an all-time record for electricity consumption on February 9, 2021. 

Supply. Cold weather, wind and unplanned outages can impact supply. There were several unplanned powerplant outages in February, 2021.

Distribution & Transmission. In January 2021, there was a mandatory distribution rate increase - part of D&T charges are tied to consumption. To support families and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, ATCO undertook an initiative to freeze rates in 2021 for our customers. We were successful in implementing this rate relief program (approved by the AUC) which deferred increases at the beginning of 2021 for our Alberta customers.

Carbon Tax. The Carbon Tax rate increased in April, 2020 when Albertan's don’t use a lot of natural gas. Since the tax is tied to natural gas consumption, it didn’t make a noticeable difference on your bills until the cold weather hit. Albertans use about 2 or 3 GJ of natural gas in the summer, but closer to 10 or 12 GJ a month in the winter. Most Albertans will receive a rebate on their income tax to offset this amount, but it does come as a shock when you see it on your winter statements.