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Home is where the heat is: British Columbians working from home miss the office AC

VANCOUVER: Amid one of the hottest summers on record, British Columbians working from home admit to missing one perk of being in the office – the air conditioning.

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in many offices shifting to working-from-home, and that is where many still find themselves even with restrictions lifting. In fact, a recent survey1 commissioned by BC Hydro found more than half of British Columbians planned to work from home five days a week this summer.

At least a quarter of these workers indicated that they would miss the office air conditioning this summer – a reprieve for the 60 per cent of British Columbians who do not have air conditioning at home.

British Columbians are well below the national average when it comes to air conditioning. Less than 40 per cent use it at home compared to the Canadian average of about 60 per cent. Manitoba and Ontario have the highest proportion of households with air conditioners at 80 per cent and 74 per cent, respectively.

That said, there has been a big increase in use in B.C. over the past decade. Air conditioning use has increased by nearly 50 per cent. In condos and apartments, that number has increased even more by about 70 per cent.

Working from home has also increased air conditioning use. Nearly 20 per cent of British Columbians working from home last summer purchased an air conditioner. And, with record-breaking temperatures continuing across the province, purchases are expected to be even higher this year. The cost of running new air conditioning units can add up, which is probably why 42 per cent said they miss their employer footing their electricity bill.

While the supply of air conditioners in B.C. may be limited this summer, BC Hydro recommends the following to stay cool with or without air conditioning this summer:

  • Closing the drapes and blinds: Shading windows can block out up to 65 per cent of the heat.
  • Shutting doors and windows: If the temperature outside is warmer than inside, keep doors and windows closed to keep the cooler air in and the warm air out.
  • Using a fan: Running a fan nine hours a day over the summer costs just $7.
  • Being a star: Purchase an ENERGY STAR air conditioner as they use about 30 to 40 per cent less power than standard units.
  • Opting for smaller appliances: Use a microwave, crockpot or toaster oven to avoid the extra heat produced by larger appliances when preparing meals.
  • Getting pumped: Install a heat pump to help efficiently cool in the summer and heat in the winter. In partnership with CleanBC, BC Hydro offers rebates up to $2,000 for installing a heat pump.

For more information on how to save energy money, visit powersmart.ca.

Contact:
BC Hydro Media Relations
p. 604 928 6468

[1] Online survey conducted by Majid Khoury of 600 British Columbians between May 21 and 26, 2021.