Maggie Wilson Author

Historical Non-Fiction in Northern Ontario

Would You Believe?

[Click image for source]

[Click image for source]

Moving to Cobalt has been a blessing in so many ways. We have very few regrets – the cats had a hard time at first, especially with the trip up. It is much more difficult to see our family and our Southern Ontario friends. But all in all, the good far outweighs the bad.

Would you believe, though, that I was terrified to open our first hydro bill? I had heard so many horror stories about malfunctioning “smart” meters, ludicrous “delivery” charges of $150.00 a month or more, and, most distressing, the stories about people who had to choose between heating or eating.

There’s a new term floating around. It’s called…

energy poverty—a situation where households spend at least 10 per cent of their household budgets on in-home energy use such as lights, appliances and heating. [source]

This morning, I did the math. Would you believe, we qualify?

People have a knee-jerk reaction when they hear about extraordinary hydro charges. They assume that people with high energy bills are careless, that they leave the lights on all day long, or that the thermostat is set at “tropical.”

Reiner replaced every lamp light with an equivalent LED bulb. We are both vigilant about turning lights off when not needed. The windows have been sealed with caulking and covered in plastic. We heat with baseboard heaters, but keep most rooms turned off. Those that are running, during the day only, are set at 15°C/60°F.

I don’t know what to make of this. I suppose I’m going to have to switch gears from ostrich-with-head-in-sand to vocal advocate, and start writing letters to my MPP.

The weather forecast calls for overnight lows in the -20° to -25°C range, which translates to -5° to -15° Fahrenheit. I look forward to the extra cold weather, actually, because the woodstove does a better job of heating the entire house. In the meantime, I’ll don the Active™ fleece-wear and add a lap robe or two. I will remain grateful that the house is well insulated and I’ll say a prayer of thanks for a functioning wood stove and the cured firewood left by the former owner.

*** *** ***
Inspired by Linda Hill – prompt would and/or wood


Categories: Daily Post

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36 replies

  1. It can be frustrating when you think that you’ve done everything right to save money and reduce your energy footprint and impact…then the bill arrives. Our utility sends out ‘energy reports’ monthly. Little graphically pleasing notes comparing us to our ‘most efficient’ energy neighbors. I have come to the conclusion that shaming Does Not Work, and that this utility rather enjoys raising rates in a nonchalant manner.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s it, exactly, isn’t it? The nonchalance.

      I don’t know the numbers for 2016, but in 2015 there were upwards of 60,0000 households in Ontario that had their hydro cut off for non-payment. I can only imagine it was worse last year, because it was only last November when our premier acknowledged that hardship her policies were causing.


  2. Our electric rates continually head upward. I have done/do everything I can to keep costs down like you – replacing light bulbs with LED bulbs, setting the thermostat low, all of that, but still in the winter months my electric bills are 20% of my monthly income.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We moved from a 200yr old house to new construction…the utilities were reduced by more than 50 %, but I miss the charm of that older place. Your post reminded me. Energy efficiency comes with a price.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Our local utility gets a lot of criticism too. Even with our temperate weather, bills can get quite high (maybe worse in the summer with AC, although we don’t have it in our house). I can’t imagine anyone having to choose between heating and eating – especially at the temperatures you describe. Bundle up and enjoy snuggling!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s a grave concern – weekly there are news articles about seniors who are using the food banks for the first time, for example.

      “Oh, have no fear,” says the utility, “No one will have their hydro cut during the winter months.”

      Well, isn’t that swell. Now a homeowner can look forward to having the utility cut when it’s warm!


  5. You are a trooper. I don’t enjoy cold weather and I don’t like when the house is below 70 degrees. I would be very poor in your neck of the woods.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. When the forecast is in the -5 to -15 range, I’d be looking at stacking some wood in the stove, for sure. It is funny how they work better when it’s cold.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. We don’t have that. I’m not bragging, but rather, sharing my gratitude for low-cost energy. This house in particular is kind about energy costs. It’s old, but well-insulated, it’s shaded, and probably most important, it’s the smallest home we’ve lived in.
    But I have friends in Northern Ontario and friends in southwest Virginia who have completely unreasonable light bills. I mean, like the kind where I might, if I lived there, try to live like a pioneer. My one friend in Virginia, she’s got a big house and a gaggle of kids and her light bill is more than my mortgage. Terrifying expense to face every month. I’m very sorry you fall into this group of people whose power cost is unreasonable and I’m so very glad you have a woodstove!
    If our energy costs get crazy, I’d definitely install something. We’ve already talked about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We’ve also considered solar, or natural gas, or propane, but we’d never recover the cost of the upgrade at this late stage.

      From the sounds of it, you might be in the minority in terms of reasonable utility rates – I’m glad for you.


  8. That’s way too cold. And it sounds like way too expensive too. Glad you have the wood stove.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I liked this post, but actually there’s nothing to like about this current situation with hydro. Even if we turned everything off, all the fixed costs added to our bills would still result in a hefty charge. This is shameful and I’m embarrassed by this disaster of mismanagement.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is a lousy state of affairs for a government whose primary interest should be the citizens. But clearly, that’s not the case. I’m embarrassed to admit that before I moved up here, I simply tsk-tsk’d and muttered a silent prayer of “Thank god it’s not me.”

      Well, know what? I’m feeling it now. I don’t mean to overstate it, because we are managing. But, now it’s in my own yard, now that I’m seeing huge chunks of $$ leave my bank account on a monthly basis and I’m still shivering… yeah, I’m feeling it.


      • I know what you’re saying. We think we can empathize, but until we’re actually in the same situation, we can’t really appreciate the impact.
        That’s exactly the boat I’m in … I don’t heat with electricity so my bills are gruesome – yet.
        … but still, I’m shocked at the nearly 100% increase I’ve seen in the past 5 years.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I hold my breath several times a year when I open our energy bills: electric bill in the summer for the a/c and gas bill in the winter for heat. I keep our house cooler (in the winter) than they recommend and still the bill is high. Short of turning off the heat entirely, I am at a loss. I feel your pain, Maggie. Thank goodness for your wood burning stove. I guess we will soon be huddling around candles.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Holy cow, Maggie. You did move north. In this country people have to be able to affordably heat their homes. The end.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I find my energy bills burn nicely and act as a small, but consistent heat source in winter.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I had diner with a family from Ontario last spring and they howled about the hydro bills. I still snicker when I hear that term “hydro”. 🙂 I see that most of Ontario’s power is generated by nuclear (63%) and most of the rest (23%) generated by hydro. Not sure why that is so expensive.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I never considered the misnomer – I suppose because the utility has been called Ontario Hydro since inception and they haven’t re-branded.

      Depending on who you read or listen to, the cost of electricity is related to several factors:

      1. it costs more to generate power than the contracted export prices – so the utility is losing money
      2. Green energy and conversion to same is/has been very expensive. These programs have been shelved for the moment
      3. Mismanagement at the top – cancelled gas plant projects ended up costing the province millions in legal fees and cancellation charges.
      4. The introduction of “delivery charges.” The further you live from the source, the more it costs. This charge is levied if you use electricity or not.
      5. Wonky smart meters. Not so smart, after all.

      Liked by 1 person


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