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Energy savings in times of pandemic: is it possible?

Teleworking

The original version of this text was published in the Winter 2021 edition of Copropriété PLUS magazine (p. 88-89).

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the lifestyle of many Quebecers upside down over the past year. Several companies have had to give up face-to-face work and ask their employees to telework: “As of May 31, nearly half of the employed people were teleworking.” [1]

Many students had to comply with distance learning courses or a hybrid formula, depending on the institutions and programs. These elements, combined with periods of confinement, have dramatically increased electricity consumption in Quebec homes. In fact, between March and July 2020, residential electricity consumption increased by 4.27% compared to last year, according to Hydro-Québec data. [2]

By being at home more often, it is not only the use of IT equipment that can increase the electricity bill but also the frequent use of air conditioning on warm days or even heating with winter knocking on our door. Since the containment measures are not ready to be released, we can suppose that electricity consumption in homes will be higher for a few more months.

Electricity rate increase for 2021

Electricity rates being frozen since April 1, they will be increased by 1.3% on the same date in 2021. [3] This news may be of monetary concern to many people, but some solutions could help you save money on your next bills.

For example, some electricity providers have started offering dynamic pricing programs that relieve congestion on their grid during peak events and better distribute electricity demand. In other words, you will be rewarded for reducing your energy consumption during peak events.

Also, the use of connected devices is becoming increasingly popular in consumers’ daily lives to control and manage their home’s energy. As of 2020, “more than a third of Quebec adults (37%) own at least one smart home device and three-quarters of them use them daily”. [4] Whether we are talking about thermostats, switches, dimmers, electrical outlets, or others, all have been designed in a “smart” version to make your life easier.

However, although they are considered smart, not all connected devices have been designed to save energy, hence the importance of being well informed and making the right choice when purchasing.

Which devices should I choose to save money?

Connected devices are becoming more and more accessible in the market, in addition to being recognized by important figures in the smart home industry such as Amazon Alexa, Samsung SmartThings, Google Assistant, and Apple Homekit. Several local players ensure their design, including the Quebec-based company Sinopé Technologies, one of Canada’s largest manufacturers of connected devices.

Smart products are designed and engineered to maximize your comfort and help you reduce your energy bills by allowing you to take full control of your connected home. “Most of our devices have a power meter that helps their consumption to be monitored in real-time. Energy optimization is part of our DNA,” says Maxime Caron-Labonté, Sales Director at Sinopé Technologies.

Consumption graph Neviweb
Consumers can see the energy consumption of their connected devices on specific management platforms, such as Neviweb.

These are the types of devices you should think about to reduce your energy consumption and your bills. Those products are smart and can be controlled remotely through mobile apps. The applications, often free, give you the possibility to consult graphs that show your energy consumption in real-time, displayed in dollars, kilowatt-hours, and percentage of use. This will allow you to obtain information for every device, whether it’s thermostats, switches, electrical outlets, or even electrical load controllers.

Management applications will, therefore, help you to manage your energy consumption better, using several features. For example, you can use automations, schedules, scenes, and even geofencing by adapting them to your lifestyle, all in order to save money. They are mostly easy to use and give you a global view of all your connected devices, so as to optimize your comfort, security, and energy consumption. Some platforms, such as Neviweb with its Eco Sinopé feature, even ties in with the dynamic pricing programs of various electricity suppliers to help consumers reduce their energy consumption and, consequently, their electricity bill.

In other words, if you want to equip yourself with smart devices to save money, be sure to opt for products that take into account your energy consumption, and not just devices that can be controlled remotely.

[1]INSPQ. « COVID-19 – Pandémie, emploi et télétravail », https://www.inspq.qc.ca/publications/3035-emploi-teletravail-covid19 (Page consultée le 27 novembre 2020)

[2] Dominique DEGRÉ. « Bond de la consommation d’électricité résidentielle au Québec et en Ontario depuis le début de la pandémie », https://ici.radio-canada.ca/nouvelle/1723787/coronavirus-covid-19-hydro-quebec-ontario-ottawa-residetiel-commercial-economie-courant (Page consultée le 27 novembre 2020)

[3] Hélène BARIL. « Hausse de 1,3 % des tarifs d’électricité au Québec », https://www.lapresse.ca/affaires/2020-11-06/hausse-de-1-3-des-tarifs-d-electricite-au-quebec.php#:~:text=Apr%C3%A8s%20un%20gel%20d’un,le%201er%20avril%202021.&text=Cette%20augmentation%20correspond%20%C3%A0%20la,Qu%C3%A9bec%20dans%20une%20annonce%20vendredi (Page consultée le 27 novembre 2020)

[4] La Nouvelle Union. « Les Québécois utilisent de plus en plus les appareils intelligents », https://www.lanouvelle.net/2020/11/24/les-quebecois-utilisent-de-plus-en-plus-les-appareils-intelligents/ (Page consultée le 30 novembre 2020)

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