03/19/2014 07:51 EDT | Updated 05/19/2014 05:59 EDT

Montreal-area Hydro customers shocked by high bills

It’s been a long, cold winter and many Hydro-Québec customers say the cold could sting for a long time.

Mohamed Kansoun says he was shocked when he opened his last Hydro bill and saw it would cost him several hundred dollars.

“For these past two months, not counting March, it came to about $860,” said Kansoun, who lives in a Laval bungalow with his wife.

The house has electric baseboards with digital thermostats, and Kansoun said he and his wife have kept the temperature this winter lower than they usually do.

“I try to verify the thermostat, unplug the TV — stuff like that. Where I can save, I save.”

Kansoun said the temperature in his home is rarely more than 18 degrees, and he and his wife never do their laundry more than two times per week.

The Hydro bill of $868.09 was so shocking, Kansoun said he even contacted the previous owner of his house, who lived there with a family of six.

“How can a house containing two people be the same amount as a house containing six people?” Kansoun said.

The couple said they plan to contest the bill.

Winter colder than average

Hydro-Québec says this winter has been colder than average, which means homeowners are spending more on heating.

“This winter, there's an average difference in temperature of -2 C. That means a potential difference for some clients of about seven per cent [on their bill],” said Patrice Lavoie, a spokesman for Hydro-Québec.

Lavoie says there are some measures people can take to help lower their energy bills during the winter.

“Open the curtains and the blinds to let the sunshine in during the day, lower the temperature at night, and you can also buy a low-flow shower head and [take] shorter showers,” he said, adding that customers can opt to pay their Hydro bill in equal instalments over the course of the year.

According to Hydro, heating and hot water account for almost 70 per cent of the average customer’s bill.