What to do during a peak demand event

Dynamic pricing is designed to reduce electricity consumption in the winter during peak demand events by shifting consumption to another time of the day. You therefore need to change your habits during peak demand events.


Electric heating and hot water consumption make a big difference to your electricity bill. If you adopt good habits during peak demand events, you’ll save more.

Electric heating

Potential savings: very high

How to save: When you lower the temperature setting, your heating system turns off. The lower you set the temperature, the longer it stays off.

Understanding how lowering the temperature setting affects electricity use

Electric heating: A significant portion of the electricity used on cold days

On cold days, heating can represent up to 80% of your electricity consumption, so it’s important to follow Hydro-Québec’s heating tips to reduce your consumption during peak demand events and maximize your savings.

Things you can do

If you do it before, or the day before, your heating system will turn on again before or during the event. You either won’t save any money or you’ll save very little. Even if the temperature setting on the thermostat is lower, the system is still operating!

If you reset the thermostats to their usual temperature setting as soon as the peak demand event ends, you’ll be able to lower the temperature again if a second event occurs later in the day. That way, you’ll maximize your savings while maintaining a certain level of comfort.

If you lower just one or only a few thermostats, the other heaters are liable to compensate for the drop in heat, which may cancel out your efforts to use less electricity.

Do you usually turn down the temperature when your premises are unoccupied?

Don’t do it before a peak demand event because you’d then have to turn the temperature back up in the morning or evening, right in the middle of an event—and you should avoid doing that. But when there’s no peak demand event, carry on as usual.

Lowering the temperature by a few degrees at certain times is a good habit in terms of energy efficiency. But it’s not a good idea if you have shown interest in dynamic pricing, unless you are able to preheat your premises before a peak demand event.

Warning: If your heating system has trouble maintaining a normal room temperature (20°C to 21°C) in cold weather, this tip is not recommended for you. Keep in mind that the amount of time it takes to get back to the regular temperature after turning down the thermostat depends on how powerful your heating system is.

Hot water

Potential savings: average

Reduce the nonessential use of hot water by temporarily changing your habits, because heating water takes a lot of electricity. For more savings, postpone hot water use until after events.

Things you can do

The water heater is a tank that fills with cold water as the hot water is used up. If you use hot water the day before a peak demand event or after the event, you will postpone the energy consumption required to heat the water in the tank. During the event, the water heater will run off and on just to maintain the temperature setting.

A water heater can take up to two hours to heat a full tank. If you postpone hot water use after 8 p.m., the energy required to heat the water will be consumed after the event.

These tasks should be carried out with cold water to limit hot water consumption during peak demand events. If you limit your consumption, the water heater will only need to maintain the heat during the event.

Small changes that make a difference

Every step, whether big or small, you take to use less electricity during a peak demand event will lower your electricity bill.

Potential savings: low

  • Reduce or postpone the use of nonessential electrical devices.
  • Turn off or temporarily unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment and electronics (outdoor lighting, computers, etc.).

Potential savings: low

  • Be sure your air exchanger isn’t in exchange mode during peak demand events. Stopping the air exchange for a short time usually has little effect on indoor air quality.

Potential savings: average

  • Don’t recharge your electric vehicles during peak demand events. If your vehicles charged completely overnight, you don’t need to unplug it in the morning.
  • The amount of time and electricity needed to charge vehicles can vary a great deal, depending on the charger and the battery capacity. Some vehicles can be programmed to charge at a specific time, and some charging stations can be programmed to charge during a specific period. Plan to charge your electric vehicles outside of peak demand events whenever possible.

Greater comfort

Use a fuel-burning auxiliary heating system.

You can use your fuel-burning (oil, propane, natural gas or wood pellets) auxiliary heating system during peak demand events to stay comfortable while using less electricity.

Preheat your premises ahead of a peak demand event.

Turning up all the thermostats 1°C to 3°C about two hours before a peak demand event will keep you comfortable during the event. But don’t forget to set the temperature a few degrees lower than usual when the event starts, depending on how much electricity you want to save. Residual heat will keep the temperature pleasant during the event, even though you’ve lowered the thermostat.

This method will help you save money, because you pay for the electricity (kWh) you consume in the winter at base rate (Rate G) prices and you receive per kWh curtailed during peak demand events.

Understanding how lowering the temperature setting affects electricity use

Tip: Some thermostat models have an “early on” option that lets you program the time you want to have the desired temperature, rather than the time the temperature should start to rise. In that way, your heating system will stop running before the event begins.


Should I get a smart thermostat?

Although they aren’t necessary, smart thermostats make it easier to control heating during peak demand events.

What happens when I lower the temperature setting?

Your heating system stops. The lower you set the temperature, the longer the heating will stay off and the more you’ll save.

Lowering the temperature setting can decrease your comfort slightly. If so, you can preheat your premises a few hours before the event. Your savings will be lower, but the temperature will be more comfortable.

Understanding how lowering the temperature setting affects electricity use

Can I program my thermostats to lower the set temperature between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. every day in winter?

If you signed up for the Winter Credit Option, we don’t recommend you do so, since your credit is based on the difference between the number of kilowatthours you usually consume in peak hours (reference energy) and the number of kilowatthours actually consumed during a peak demand event (actual consumption). If you lower your electricity use every time demand is highest, including times outside peak demand events, the reference energy and your credit will drop. You will also sacrifice comfort outside peak demand events. You should only lower the temperature during peak demand events.

You may be able to program different schedules or periods, such as peak demand events in the mornings, evenings or both, for example. If your thermostats do not support this type of function or if you have difficulties programming them, adjust your thermostats manually at the start and end of each event.

What happens when I use hot water?

The water heater is a tank that fills with cold water as the hot water is used up. As a result, your water heater elements have to work harder to heat the water. Since your water heater uses more energy to heat water in the tank than it does to maintain the temperature, you should delay your hot water consumption until the end of the peak demand event or after the event in order to maximize your savings.

Should I turn off my water heater during peak demand events?

It is not recommended that you manually turn off your water heater during peak demand events, or at any other time for that matter. In fact, it is recommended that you keep the temperature of your water heater at 60°C (140°F) in order to reduce the risk of contracting legionellosis, a disease caused by bacteria that can sometimes be present in water heaters. For more information on this subject, please consult the page on legionellosis on Québec.ca.

A customized tool to track your savings

You can track your savings closely in your Customer Space.

There you’ll find the following information:

  • Your total credit for the winter period, updated the day after each peak demand event
  • Detailed information about all past peak demand events (electricity used, baseline consumption, curtailed energy, amount of the credit)
  • Upcoming events for which you have received a notification
  • History of previous winters

See your tracking tool

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This forum was created for customers who have signed up for dynamic pricing. It’s the ideal platform to ask questions, find answers and share tips and advice for peak events.

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