Extreme cold in Saskatchewan has turned up the dial on natural gas usage.
SaskEnergy released numbers Thursday showing three records were shattered over three days.
Company spokesperson Dave Burdeniuk told 980 CJME it wasn’t the increased demand, but it’s timing, that came as a surprise.
“We weren’t expecting the records to occur right over Christmas,” he said, adding this marks the fifth year in a row for increased consumption.
The new record of 1.43 PetaJoules (PJ) – set during a 24-hour period starting 9 a.m. Boxing Day – exceeded records set Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
A PetaJoule is a unit of measurement equivalent to one million GigaJoules (GJ), or units, of natural gas – the average home in Saskatchewan consumes about 102 GJ of natural gas annually.
The new record is also seven per cent higher than the record set last winter.
SaskEnergy also noted that Wednesday’s consumption mark of 1.41 PJ, while not record-setting, was the third-highest day for natural gas use ever recorded in the province.
Burdeniuk said while households play a part, major industries are often the biggest contributors to these high-use numbers.
“We did see a lot of those industrial customers operating right through the holidays,” he said.
“You could have a major mine or a fertilizer plant that everyday that its going, it could be using similar natural gas load as say the city of Regina or Saskatoon.”
What’s more, Burdeniuk said, the province could likely set another record in the coming days.
He explained while natural gas use usually peaks in the province between 6:30-8:30 a.m. – as people get ready for work and school – the holidays present a different trend.
“We have a lot of people that are home this week and what we’re seeing for the residential load this week is turning (the heat) up at 6:30 a.m. and staying there,” he said.
Burdeniuk was quick to point out that despite the increase in the overall number of households – SaskEnergy has 400,000 plus customers – individual energy consumption has changed.
“What we’re seeing what would be the reverse of what you might see with electricity,” he said.
Burdeniuk said 10 years ago the average household would use about 130 units of natural gas, with three quarters of that usage in winter. That same home today uses about 102 units.
“You’re seeing people using their energy a lot more wisely,” he said, pointing to energy-efficient appliances and improvements in home construction.
With this, Burdeniuk said SaskEnergy continues to look ahead to prepare for more instances of possible record-breaking use.
“Every year we keep adding more capacity so that we have to stay probably two to three years ahead of the curve,” he said. “Even as we set records, we have more load built in.”
SaskEnergy said employees work throughout the year to inspect, maintain and upgrade the province’s natural gas system so that it can operate safely and efficiently regardless of the weather conditions.
In response to the increased use, SaskPower sent out ways for homeowners to lower their power bills this winter:
- Turn down the thermostat when no one is home. Cooling and heating represents approximately a quarter of residential power bills.
- Plug in your car with a timer. Even on the coldest nights, your vehicle only needs to be plugged in for four hours. Using a block heater timer can save you about $25 per year on your power bill.
- Turn off your lights when possible. Shorter days and longer nights mean interior lights in your home are on longer.
- Convert to LED lights. Along with shutting lights off, you can cut the electricity needed for lighting your home by three-quarters by using LED bulbs.
- Running a space heater 24/7 can be expensive. To help manage your energy costs, try extra blankets or a sweater first.
- Only preheat your oven for baking, and only if the recipe calls for it. Most foods like roasts and casseroles don’t need a preheated oven to cook properly.
- Use the right burner. Using a six inch pot on an eight inch burner on an electric stove can waste more than 40 per cent of the burner’s heat.
- Check your fireplace. When it isn’t heating the room and warming your toes, a fireplace may be cooling your house. Make sure the damper is closed when the fireplace isn’t in use to keep cold air out and warm air in.
– With files from 980 CJME’s Jessie Anton.