Montrealers, you may (temporarily) rejoice: Environment Canada’s extreme cold weather warning has been lifted, but it won’t be for long.
After being in place for over a week, the warning was not in place on Tuesday as temperatures reached a relatively balmy high of -14 Celsius. That comes after weeks where temperatures reached well into the negative twenties, and wind chill dipped into the negative forties.
The good news continues into Wednesday and Thursday, where the weather is expected to reach relatively tropical highs of -9 and -10, respectively. The good times will end on Friday, when the temperature will dip to -14 and go even lower on Saturday.
The cold weather has taken a toll on more than the city’s morale. As temperatures have gone downward, some Montrealers have expressed worry that their heating bills will head in the opposite direction.
Anna Vorias, a St-Laurent borough resident, recently ran the numbers for what she can expect to pay Hydro-Quebec for heating.
“I did a rough calculation and they’re expecting us to pay about $4,200 per year,” she said. “So, it’s a bit of a shocker.”
During last year’s milder winter, Vorias said her family’s Hydro bill was $816 for the time period between late December and February. This year, in an attempt to keep their costs reasonable, the family has been wearing extra slippers and socks in an attempt to beat the extreme cold temperatures.
“It’s been rough and it’s cold, we’re keeping it at a bare minimum and we’re cold,” she said.
In order to avoid overloading the province’s power grid, Hydro-Quebec has offered large businesses like ski hills discounted rates if they reduce their usage. That offer isn’t being extended to residential clients, however.
“We’re a northern climate and what comes with cold weather is the heating bills,” said Hydro-Quebec spokesperson Lynn St-Laurent. “We do have the lowest rates in North America.”
St-Laurent said there has been a spike in consumption during the cold snap, but usage hasn’t been record-breaking. She advised Montrealers looking to bring down their bill to lower temperatures in rooms they don’t use as much and to lower the thermostat by a degree or two at night.
Vorias said that even after taking special measures, she’s still paying too much. She added that while there are some steps she could still take, those come at an even greater expense.
“They suggested changing the windows, that’s a $20,000 expense there,” she said. “We’re looking into if we can put in solar panels. I feel like we’re a hostage.”