He saves up to $1,000 per winter by 'abusing' Hydro's algorithm – Le Journal de Montréal

A University of Montreal computer science professor managed to save more than $1,000 on his electricity bill by taking full advantage of the winter credit offered by Hydro-Québec.

• Also read: Hydropower is making life more difficult for Quebecers who want to reduce their consumption without driving through Hilo

• Also read: Hydro is struggling to convince customers to reduce heating during extreme cold

During the winter of 2021-2022, which was quite cold, Sébastien Roy’s winter balance was $1,025. In the winter of 2022-2023, which was milder, it reached $685.

To give a sense of the magnitude of the achievement, consider that the average savings of Winter Loan participants last year was $37 for a typical single-family home.

If desired, Hydro customers can use the winter credit to save during “peak events”, i.e. times of high consumption in the morning and/or evening when it is extremely cold. Another dynamic pricing option is also available: Flex Pricing.

Turn the heating down and up

By fully exploiting the algorithm that controls dynamic pricing, it is possible to achieve significantly greater savings. In summary, you need to increase and decrease your consumption at certain key moments.

“I gave myself a rule that I didn’t want my house to use more electricity [sur une année complète] “If I didn’t receive the winter credit,” explains Mr. Roy. That said, I’m not the type of person who opens the doors in the middle of the night to use more electricity. I know there are some who do this, but I have set my limit there. So you could say I’m overusing their formula, but I’m not wasting electricity.”

He saves up to $1,000 per winter by

Sébastien Roy Photo from the University of Montreal website

It is understood that Hydro uses three elements of information to calculate the discounts paid to customers: the usual consumption during peak periods (morning and early evening), the usual consumption at night depending on the outside temperature and the consumption during the so-called ” “critical” peak times (during extreme cold).

Based on his experience, Sébastien Roy summarizes the best way to achieve the highest savings as follows:

  • You will need to adjust your electricity usage during peak hours, except in very cold weather.
  • You should reduce your consumption at night (from 1 a.m. to 4 a.m.) and at lunchtime (from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.), except before a “peak event.”

“Faulty” formula

According to Mr. Roy, the formula that Hydro-Québec uses for its dynamic pricing is “poorly implemented, flawed” and “leads to abuse.”

“You have to laugh because even if you don’t save much during a critical peak period, Hydro will reimburse you for the excess electricity you used in the middle of the night at more than 53 cents per kWh,” he notes.

Keep in mind that residential customers pay about 8.5 cents per kWh for their electricity.

To remedy this, Hydro should calculate its customers’ reduction efforts during peak events based on typical consumption depending on the type of home they live in, suggests Sébastien Roy.

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