Brace yourself for shorter days, lower temperatures and higher electricity bills over the coming months.

Snowflake GraphicEnergy use increases during the cold season, from November to March, both in terms of monthly usage and instantaneous peaks caused by cold snaps, says Doug McCollor, BC Hydro's manager of meteorology and climate services.

“The current projections indicate the December-to-February period will average slightly warmer than normal,” McCollar notes. “There is about a 70% chance of an El Niño event in the north Pacific this winter, and this climate pattern tends to give warmer than normal winters (on average) for western Canada.”

Nonetheless even windy, damp weather can affect energy use. “Winds can actually wick heat away from buildings as well as drive cold air through gaps in door and window frames,” McCollar says. He encourages people to ensure their homes incorporate energy-efficient windows, doors and insulation. “Always follow the weather forecast to know when extreme cold weather is on the way, or major storms, so you can be well prepared for these adverse weather conditions before they arrive,” he advises.

Shorter hours of daylight are also to blame for higher energy use, as people use their electric lighting and appliances more than during the long days of summer. In addition, energy use spikes during the holiday season, thanks to all of the festive lighting displays.

Chart of seasonal temperatures comparing cities across BC