COVID-19 in B.C.: B.C Hydro report reveals how British Columbians' home behaviour changed during pandemic

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      Although there haven't been any new COVID-19 outbreaks in B.C. over the past 24 hours, the province's consecutive six days without any fatalities had ended.

      Today (June 12), B.C.’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix issued a news release instead of a news briefing for today’s B.C. COVID-19 update.

      B.C. reported 16 new cases of COVID-19 today, bringing the cumulative total to 2,709.

      Since the pandemic began, there have been 922 cases in Vancouver Coastal Health, 1,396 in Fraser Health, 130 in Island Health, 196 in Interior Health, and 65 in Northern Health (the news release states that there has been a data correction of one less case in Northern Health).

      There are currently 187 active cases, including 12 patients in hospital (three are in intensive care units).

      A total of 2,354 people who tested positive have recovered.

      Although there haven’t been any deaths reported over the past six days, there was one new death in Vancouver Coastal Health reported today, raising the total number of deaths to 168 people.

      As there haven’t been any new healthcare outbreaks, there remain five active longterm care facility outbreaks.

      Also, there aren’t any new community outbreaks, leaving the active number at six.

      Energy use and behaviour changes

      With people staying at home more than ever over the past few months, one might expect energy consumption to have increased dramatically.

      Yet a B.C. Hydro report revealed that overall residential power usage has remained at the same level during the pandemic for regular levels at this time of the year.

      However, what has changed are daily routines of residents.

      The report found that almost 40 percent of British Columbians are working from home five days a week. That has resulted in weekday electricity use hitting peaks later in the morning and earlier during evenings, which is more similar to weekend energy-use patterns, according to B.C. Hydro data.

      A survey conducted by B.C. Hydro found that, with many residents no longer commuting to work, almost 40 percent have been waking up later on weekdays, including about 60 percent of those individuals waking up over an hour later than their usual time.

      Consequently, almost 45 percent are now eating breakfast later as well while 24 percent said they shower less frequently and more quickly.

      These changes have contributed to electricity use peaking later in the morning while the earlier evening peak is due in part to changes in cooking. Almost a quarter of the survey respondents said they make dinner earlier, about 40 percent are baking more, and almost half of the survey respondents said they have increased their cooking activity since the start the pandemic.

      Due to pandemic restrictions and precautions, residents have instead resorted to home entertainment, with about 60 percent watching more TV than before, and 15 percent more daytime television viewing on weekdays.

      Meanwhile, 30 percent of respondents said they are going to bed later, with almost 80 percent of those delaying their bedtime by over an hour compared to before the pandemic.

      Any British Columbians facing financial hardship due to COVID-19 can apply for the B.C. Hydro’s COVID-19 Relief Fund until June 30.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.