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Frequently asked questions

General questions

Dare to Compare is a free service to allow you to see at a glance if your household uses more or less electricity than the average household with a profile like yours.

First you answer 11 questions (online or printed questionnaire).Your answers allow us to match you with a comparison group formed of similar households.

Then you get your result, which includes the following:

  • A dial showing your electricity use as compared to that of the comparison group average (note that your result is based on your actual electricity use, not on an estimate)
  • The difference between your consumption and the average in both kilowatthours and dollars
  • The percentage of households that use less electricity than yours
  • Tips on conserving electricity

The Dare to Compare service is meant to help you understand your electricity consumption and compare it with that of similar households. It is part of Hydro-Québec’s energy efficiency strategy, which aims to support customers’ efforts to save electricity.

Dare to Compare only looks at electricity data. Consumption of any other type of energy (such as gas or wood) is not compared. Other energy sources used are taken into consideration in determining the comparison group, however.

For example, if you don’t have electric heating, your household is compared with other households with fuel-fired heating systems.

Dare to Compare

  • This service compares household electricity use with that of a similar group (type of dwelling, number of occupants, etc.) that uses electricity for similar purposes (heating, hot water, etc.)
  • Tips on saving energy are provided along with comparison results
  • Only 11 questions (to determine comparison group).

Home Diagnostic

  • This service provides a personalized analysis of energy consumption by use and source
  • Very detailed report, including personalized recommendations, potential savings, estimated costs of improvements and payback period
  • Much more detailed questionnaire (43 to 127 questions, depending on dwelling type and energy uses).

If you’re a residential customer* who pays Rate D (residential) or DT (dual energy), you can use Dare to Compare, no matter whether you’re a homeowner or a tenant. The rate you pay is indicated on your bill.

You can use Dare to Compare even if you’ve already done the Home Diagnostic.

To make the comparison valid and useful, you must meet the following conditions:

  • The electricity bill must be in your name, your contract must be current and you must live at that service address.
  • You must pay Rate D or DT**.
  • You must have a consumption profile dating back at least 280 days in a row (just over nine months), in order for the analysis period to be valid.
  • The consumption on your last bill in the analysis period must not have been estimated (E).
  • The consumption in the billing period before the analysis period must not have been estimated (E).
  • Your building must be exclusively residential.
  • If the rate applied to your service contract has changed, you must have a consumption history of at least 420 days at your present rate.

* A lack of comparable data makes it impossible to produce Dare to Compare results for residents of Schefferville and Nunavik or for municipal grid customers. Hydro-Québec does offer other energy efficiency programs for those customers, however. Please ask your municipal utility about programs in your community.

** Does not apply to contracts at Rate DM.

Questionnaire

No. The information you provide will be kept entirely confidential, as required by the Act Respecting Access to Documents Held by Public Bodies and the Protection of Personal Information (R.S.Q., c. A-2.1). Only authorized Hydro-Québec employees will have access to it.

If there is no space between your house and your next-door neighbors, you live in a row house attached on both sides. In the questionnaire, a detached house is one with land between it and the next house on either side. The same applies to duplexes and triplexes.

Yes. If the basement has been converted into an apartment with its own address and electricity meter, your house consists of two units and is therefore a duplex.

The building has had four addresses since it was subdivided, and it is very likely that each unit has its own electricity meter. You should answer that it is a building with 4–8 units. A triplex always has three units (three addresses), whether they are on two or three floors. For example, a two-storey building with one downstairs flat and two upstairs is considered a triplex.

To determine the number of occupants, first look at the analysis period. If the past 12 months go from last August 1 to this July 31, there are four occupants for the first 6 months and six for the last 6 months (February to July, inclusive). The two extra occupants only occupied the house for just under half the year, so that is the equivalent to one occupant for the whole year. You should answer five.

Occupants

Time

Occupants for year
(occupants x time)

4 1 year 4
2 ½ year 1
Response 5

Actually, that makes four. If your partner and her daughter have lived with you for the past 12 months (analysis period), you should answer four occupants. You + your partner + her daughter make three. Your two children together count as just one occupant because they only live with you half the time.

Occupants

Time

Occupants for year
(occupants x time)

3 1 year 3
2 Half time = ½ year 1
Response 4

In open-plan homes like lofts, there are usually different areas for different purposes, such as a kitchen, dining room, living room and bedroom. In such a case, you can count four heated rooms.

There is no average or maximum size that defines a room. A home may have one 80–sq. ft. room adjoining another measuring 350 sq. ft. They are considered to be two separate rooms.

No. If you don’t pay directly for heating them, don’t count them. The cost of heating common areas is usually built into condo fees.

No. The number of occupants should be the number of people who are there when the house is occupied. But remember to take this into account when reading your result. Your consumption will probably be lower than the comparison group average, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the house is energy-efficient. You should still follow the recommendations on improving its energy efficiency.

If you’re a tenant, check your lease to see whether hot water is included in your rent. If so, your landlord pays for it and your electricity bill doesn’t cover it.

Also, if you have a gas water heater, then your electricity bill doesn’t cover hot water.

No. As a rule, either the building owner pays pool operating costs, or else they are included in condo fees or rent. Your electricity bill does not cover them.

Questions about Dare to Compare results

  1. Your profile is determined on the basis of your answers to the Dare to Compare questionnaire concerning specific characteristics.
  2. Then you’re matched with a comparison group formed of similar households.
  3. Your consumption is calculated for a given analysis period.
  4. The average electricity consumption is calculated for the comparison group and the same period, then adjusted according to the temperatures in your region.
  5. Your consumption and costs are compared with the average.

Characteristics used to determine your profile:

  • Dwelling type: detached house, semidetached house, row house, duplex, triplex, etc.
  • Number of heated rooms
  • Energy used for heating and hot water
  • Number of occupants
  • Energy used to heat pool, if applicable

Combinations of these characteristics are used to form over 1,000 comparison groups. This makes the comparison average more accurate and appropriate than the average of all Residential Customers would be. In other words, we compare apples with apples.

Your total electricity consumption comes from your billing data, which you can see by looking at your consumption profile in your Customer Space.

Yes. The electricity use of your comparison group is adjusted according to the temperatures recorded in your region during the analysis period. A customer who lives in Abitibi doesn’t have the same heating needs as one living in downtown Montréal, and that’s why we take it into account. To make this adjustment, we use a mathematical formula based on degree-days in your region during the analysis period. It’s as if all the households in your comparison group had lived in your region during the analysis period!

There is no question on air-conditioning because it is not a statistically significant characteristic. If you have an air conditioner, the amount of electricity it uses is included in your total electricity consumption. The amount of electricity used for air-conditioning is included in the comparison group’s total electricity consumption, as well. To get an idea of how much electricity you use for air-conditioning, you can use our online calculation tool. Even better, fill in the Home Diagnostic to get a precise assessment of how much electricity you consume for air-conditioning. Heavy use could explain higher-than-average electricity consumption.

No, but it does mean you’re on the right track! The tips you get with your report will help you improve your energy efficiency if you haven’t already followed them.

Don’t forget that your comparison group’s average consumption may change. Your position with respect to the group may also change. You can track your result using the Dare to Compare link in your Customer Space every time you receive an electricity bill based on a meter reading. We always show the most up-to-date result.

If the characteristics of your home are similar to those of the comparison group, the difference is probably due to your energy use habits and your home’s energy efficiency.

To get a clearer idea of suitable energy efficiency measures to take and how they could affect your electricity use (in costs and kilowatthours), you should use the free Home Diagnostic.

On the other hand, your home may have some special feature that sets it apart from the comparison group. For example, a house with 12 heated rooms is compared with houses that have 7 or more rooms. Five rooms can make a huge difference to energy consumption.

Here are a few possible reasons:

  1. Maybe your improvements are too recent to be reflected in the electricity consumption analyzed by Dare to Compare. For example, if you changed heating features or habits, you won’t see any difference until the analysis period includes a heating season. To track your changes and those in the comparison group, use the Dare to Compare link in your Customer Space regularly.
  2. If your Dare to Compare answers truly reflect your household, you should look at how you’re different from the comparison group and how that could have a negative impact on your result. For example, a house with 12 heated rooms is compared with houses that have 7 or more rooms. Five rooms can make a huge difference to energy consumption.
  3. If you have a heated pool, there’s a good chance that your electricity use is higher than the comparison group average, because the group includes households with unheated pools (or pools heated without electricity). To get a clearer idea of suitable energy efficiency measures to take and how they could affect your electricity use (in costs and kilowatthours), you should reread your personalized Home Diagnostic report. It gives a breakdown by type of use and tells you how much energy you use to heat your pool.

No. The Dare to Compare report has no effect on rates or billing. It’s a free service that helps you become more aware of how you use electricity by comparing your consumption with that of similar households and offers guidance on saving electricity.

What else can I do?

Yes, but you’ll have to wait a while to accumulate the consumption data needed for the comparison (at least 280 days in a row).

Yes, you can change your answers. Just go to your Customer Space and click on the Dare to Compare link. But remember, your answers should still reflect your situation during most of the analysis period. If your situation has just changed recently, don’t change your answers yet. Wait a while, so the new situation is reflected in your result.

You may start to see a difference within a few months, or it may take longer, depending on what measures you’ve taken and what season they apply to. For example, if the changes involve heating, you won’t see any difference until the analysis period includes a heating season.

Just go to your Customer Space and click on the Dare to Compare link. Your result and that of your comparison group are updated every billing period (every two months, if your meter is read) or whenever you change your answers.

Your Dare to Compare result comes with tips. Plus, if you haven’t done so yet, it would be a good idea to fill in the Home Diagnostic which generates an even more personalized report, including recommendations, potential savings, estimated costs of improvements and payback period.

You should also regularly check out the Energy Efficiency section of our Web site. You’ll find programs with rebates and advice on being energy wise.

No. The online version of the Home Diagnostic automatically transfers your answers to the Dare to Compare questionnaire. If you go to the Dare to Compare result from your Customer Space, you’ll see that the questionnaire has already been filled in and that the results are displayed. Take the time to review the answers, though, just in case your situation has changed since you filled in the Home Diagnostic questionnaire.

You can also access your personalized Home Diagnostic recommendations report online. You’ll find the same information as before, but enhanced by the result of the comparison with similar households. If your situation has changed since the last time you filled in the questionnaire, update your answers.

Miniglossary of energy terms

In the context of electricity consumption, energy is the power consumed within a given period.

Power is expressed in watts (W), and energy is expressed in watthours (Wh). One kilowatt equals a thousand watts, and one kilowatthour equals a thousand kilowatthours.

The watt (W) is a unit of measure of power, and the watthour (Wh) is a unit of measure of energy. One kilowatt equals a thousand watts, and one kilowatthour equals a thousand kilowatthours.

For example, the power of a lightbulb is measured in watts (40 W, 60 W, etc.), but the energy it uses is measured in watthours or, more often, kilowatthours (kWh).

So a 60-W bulb that is on for an hour uses 60 Wh. If it is on for 1,000 hours, it uses 1,000 times more: 60,000 Wh, or 60 kWh, of electricity.

Your electricity bill always shows your consumption in kilowatthours (kWh).

A degree-day represents a mean daily temperature one degree Celsius below a given baseline outdoor temperature. After analyzing load and temperature data, Hydro-Québec set the baseline temperature at 15°C. Degree-days are an indicator of heat requirements.

For example, a mean temperature of 12°C amounts to 3 degree-days. A mean overnight temperature of 18°C amounts to 0 degree-days.


See also