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Become an Educated Energy Consumer    OttawaEnergyAudit     Saturday 19 January 2019
Current Time-of-use pricing is: low at 14.477¢/kWh
Contact us now to book your audit.

Published Columns: February 2005
Curbing Your Consumption:
Time shifting your load

By John Ford

Nothing beats cost at shifting attitudes. While we have heard some noises from the Ontario government about installing time-of-day metering, we currently do not have a price structure which would pay back your investment in a smart meter. Any move for consumers to take the time of day into account when using electricity is purely altruistic. But is it? Not entirely.

There are about 4.5 millions homes in Ontario and some sources give the average consumption as 1,000 kWh per month or 32.8 kWh per day. Residential consumption is about 35% of total consumption in Ontario. If each home reduced their consumption to 10 kWh per day, we could lower the total consumption in Ontario by about 25%. But total consumption isn't really the problem: unlike natural gas or oil, electricity cannot be stored for use in peak periods. Generation capacity must accomodate peak load, not average load, so our costs are related to peak loads. Peak consumption in Ontario can be about 25,000 megawatts on any particular day. Generation capacity is about 23,000 megawatts. You can find our hourly consumption and cost on the web on the Independent Electricity Market Operator's web site.

Consumption in Ontario
It is easy to see a correlation between peak demand and cost. The fixed price you pay individually for electricity is often much less than the cost we pay collectively. The difference comes out of our taxes.

So what can we do? We can lower our overall consumption, and shift the times we use energy to reduce the peak consumption. Doing both could allow Ontario to simply turn off our dirty coal generation without having to build new capacity.

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If you would like to see answers here to your questions about energy consumption, email them to

John Ford is a technology consultant, and owner of a small energy conservation business.