Ways To Save On Your Electricity Bill

When looking at ways to save on your electricity bill, you should first understand which part of the bill you will actually be able to affect. Then we can look at the ways to reduce the amount of electricity you are being charged for by replacing or upgrading items within your home or learning to use electricity more wisely.

How to Read your Electricity Bill To Understand Where You Can Save Money

To find out how much you can save on your electricity bill, we will look at the most recent bill from a southern Alberta family of 4 living in a 1200 square foot detached home (with identifying numbers and companies changed for privacy).

Image: An electricity bill from an Alberta family on a variable rate plan in January-February 2020

Yikes, January and February 2020 were bad months for Alberta’s energy consumers! Typically, they are high consuming months due to cold temperatures and reduced daylight hours. This year in particular, Southern Alberta saw record low temperatures to start the billing period. To top it all off, the Alberta Provincial Government scrapped the cap on electricity rates as part of its October 2019 budget cuts as briefly outlined on page 138 of their 2020 Fiscal Plan. This rate cap previously prevented Alberta’s residential and small business consumers from paying more than 6.8 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). Without the rate cap, unless you had locked in your rates with your provider, you would have noticed a large hike on the bill you received in February.
Now let’s take a look at your bill. We will start where the electricity is generated and work through to where the electricity is used by your household.

Transmission Charges

Transmission charges cover the cost of installing, maintaining and operating the high voltage infrastructure.  This infrastructure is used to move electricity from where it is produced to the distribution system’s substation, where it is converted to a lower voltage for consumers. The transmission charge is calculated based on how much electricity is used during the billing period.

Delivery charges

Delivery charges cover the cost of getting the electricity to your home from the distribution system. They go to the distribution company to cover what they spend on installing, maintaining and operating the infrastructure (wires, poles, transformers, etc.) used to convert and transport the electricity from the transmission system to your home. The delivery charge is calculated by combining a fixed fee, regardless of your use, and a variable fee, which depends on how much electricity you used during the billing period.

Franchise Fee

The franchise fee is charged by your municipal government to the utility company for exclusive rights to distribute to the area, as well as compensation for the public property used for distribution (poles, etc.). It is then passed on to you on each bill.

Administration Charge

This covers the administration costs of billing and customer service.

Energy Charges and Transaction Fees

These are the only charges you can really control and we have highlighted them on our example bill. They are calculated by multiplying the meter reading in kWh (your actual energy usage in kilowatt hours for the billing period) by the current electricity rates or transaction fees per kWh. Now, let’s look at ways to reduce this amount on your next bill.

For more information on energy charges, please visit the Alberta Utilities Commission.

How To Save On Your Electricity Bill


Make the switch to LED lighting! The average LED light uses 70% less energy than an incandescent bulb. To compare, a 60W incandescent bulb (a bulb that uses 60 watts per hour) puts out 800 lumens of light. To get the same lumen (light) output, an average LED bulb would only use 12 watts! Some LEDs are even more efficient and can exceed this lumen/W output.

Here is an example of potential energy savings for pot lights in a typical kitchen:

Let’s say you have five 75W incandescent bulbs and you use them approximately four hours a day, seven days a week. It would amount to 3832.5kW per year. If you were to change these out to five 16W LED pot lights it would equate to only 817.6kW per year.  Based on ENMAX’s current locked-in rate of $0.0639/kWh, it would save you $192.65 per year to switch out those 5 lights to LEDs!

Another incentive to consider is maintenance and waste. The average life span of an incandescent bulb is 1000-2500 hours, while a LED bulb has an average of between 25000-50000 hours. This means you would have to replace an incandescent bulb up to 24 times during the life of an equivalent LED bulb.

Home Automation

Home automation can also be utilized to make your home more efficient and save on your electricity bill. The following are some of the ways that home automation can help:

Set a schedule for your outside lights so that they are only on when you need them and are not left on by mistake.
Turn on ‘away mode’ so that all lights turn off automatically and your furnace lowers the temperature when your system senses you have left the house.
Set lighting scenes using dimmers to use less power per light, saving electricity.
Use occupancy/vacancy sensors that turn the lights on and off automatically when you enter and leave a room.
Install daylight sensors to automatically dim lights in a room when there is sufficient sunlight.

Use Energy Efficient Appliances

Try to purchase appliances and heating/cooling products with an ENERGY STAR rating when upgrading or replacing them. They will use less energy while delivering the same or better performance than other products in the market. You should also consider the following actions to save electricity when using your appliances:
Close the refrigerator or freezer door as soon as possible.
Turn down the temperature on your water heater and/or consider insulating the outside of the tank.
Cover pots on the stove to reduce cooking times.
Only run dishwashers and clothes washers and dryers when you have a full load. Your clothes dryer uses the most energy of all the appliances in your house.
Plug electronics into power bars and turn the bar off when the devices are not in use. Most devices such as TVs and computers will go into ‘standby’ mode, which will still use electricity even when you are not using them.

Electric Heating and Cooling is Expensive

Try to avoid using electric heating or cooling as it uses a large amount of electricity. Portable electric heaters draw a lot of electricity and are much less efficient than heating with natural gas. Average AC units use around 7 kW/h, which means that they will cost you up to about $10/day when running full time (based on $0.0639/kWh which is ENMAX’s current locked-in rate).

In conclusion, although a large portion of your bill is not under your direct control, you can still do quite a bit to reduce the electricity you use on a daily basis to reduce your energy bill. To learn more about what we can do to help you save money on your bill or to book an appointment, please give an expert at Exquisite Electric a call at 587-333-3373.
By: Exquisite Electric
March 15, 2019