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British Columbians are more dependent on A/C than ever before, setting a summer record

VANCOUVER: After a summer of unprecedented heat and record-breaking demand for electricity, new research from BC Hydro finds British Columbians are using air conditioning more than ever before.

Air conditioning in B.C. has been on the rise over the past decade, increasing by about 50 per cent from a quarter of British Columbians using it at home to nearly 40 per cent. However, a new survey[1] conducted on behalf of BC Hydro found that more than 20 per cent of British Columbians purchased or upgraded their air conditioning units and systems this summer, bringing the total number with air conditioning even higher.

With traditionally cooler summers compared to other parts of the country, especially in the Lower Mainland and on Vancouver Island, B.C. has always fallen far below the national average when it comes to air conditioning. However, with the extreme temperatures recorded this summer, new information shows the gap has closed – and quickly. For example, air conditioning use appears to have grown almost as much in one summer as it did in the previous 10 years combined.

In fact, the majority of British Columbians now consider air conditioning a necessity – not a luxury.

Record-breaking temperatures and an increased number of air conditioning users drove summer peak hourly demand – the time of day British Columbians use the most power – to all-time highs. In fact, during the extreme heat wave in June, records were broken on three consecutive days. The highest ever summer peak hourly demand was recorded on June 28, 2021 when demand reached 8,568 megawatts, shattering the record that was set before the heat wave began by more than 600 megawatts – the equivalent of turning on 600,000 portable air conditioners.

BC Hydro also found even though record numbers purchased air conditioning this year – the numbers would have been much higher if there had been more stock available. As a result, it is expected that many of these potential buyers will try to get a unit in the off-season. For those considering purchasing air conditioning or upgrading their unit or system before next summer, BC Hydro recommends:

  • Purchase a heat pump: Inefficient portable units are dominant. Sixty-six per cent of homes with air conditioning use these units, and some households could save more in the long run by adopting heat pumps to meet their future air conditioning. Plus, in partnership with CleanBC, BC Hydro offers rebates up to $2,000 for installing a heat pump.
  • Be a star: Purchase an ENERGY STAR air conditioner as they use about 30 to 40 per cent less power than standard units.

BC Hydro Media Relations
p. 604 928 6468

[1] Online survey conducted by Majid Khoury of 800 British Columbians between August 19-22, 2021.