An unprecedented amount of electronics use is expected this holiday season.

COVID-19 restrictions are prompting families to keep within their immediate family bubble these holidays, meaning either less time socially outside of the electronic world, or staying connected with family and friends via video sharing apps like Zoom or FaceTime.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, among other health officials, have been suggesting recently that families get together virtually, and British Columbians seem to be taking heed. About 60-percent of British Columbians said they are planning a virtual celebration with family and friends this year, and about half said they will be making more phone calls to connect with loved ones.

A recent survey from BC Hydro found that over 90-percent of British Columbians plan to spend more time at home these holidays due to the coronavirus. Over half said they will use more electronics to help pass the time, which combined with small appliances account for about 20-percent of the electricity consumed in a home.

Screen time, according to BC Hydro, is expected to reach unprecedented levels – About three-quarters of British Columbians indicated they will be spending more time watching TV and movies over the holiday season than they normally do.

All of these results factor into what the most sought-after gifts of the 2020 holiday season have been so far. Electronic purchases have already gone up around 10-percent in British Columbia in 2020, a trend that continues through December.

Though the gaming industry slowed in 2019, new systems like the Xbox One X and the Playstation 5 are significantly increasing gaming purchases this season. The survey showed that around ten-percent of adults have, or will be, purchasing a new gaming console this holiday season.

That same percentage applies to the purchase of both new TVs and cellphones as well, while tablets, headsets, and monitors are also at the top of many British Columbians’ lists.

All of these purchases and practices can lead to some hefty holiday utility bills. BC Hydro has provided some tips to keep your energy bill at a reasonable rate:

·         Streaming efficiently: Stream movies or TV shows on a device like a smart TV instead of a game console, as it uses 40-percent less electricity.

·         Looking for the ENERGY STAR symbol: Laptops or desktops with this label use between 30 to 60-percent less electricity than conventional models. ENERGY STAR rated TVs use at least 30-percent less.

·         Considering the monitor size: A 17-inch monitor uses 30-percent more energy than a 15-inch monitor.

·         Monitoring consumption: See how holiday activities impact a household’s electricity use with the electricity tracking tools available in MyHydro.