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BC Hydro encourages qualifying customers to apply for free portable AC ahead of heat

VANCOUVER: With warmer temperatures on the way, BC Hydro is encouraging eligible low income and vulnerable customers to get prepared now by applying for a free portable air conditioner.

Over the past few years, the use of air conditioning in B.C. homes has increased by 20 percent1 – an upwards trend that is expected to continue. Over half of British Columbians are now cooling their homes in the summer with AC, compared to about one-third in 2020.

Portable air conditioning units are the most popular choice in B.C. homes because they are lower cost, can easily be moved, are simpler to set up and do not require permanent installation. It is estimated that 730,000 units are being used across the province – an increase of about 350,000 units over the past three years.

While air conditioning use has increased significantly across B.C., it is not accessible for everyone, particularly low-income and vulnerable residents. To bridge the AC affordability gap, last summer the Government of B.C. announced a three-year program with $10 million in funding for BC Hydro to install 8,000 free portable air conditioning units in the homes of British Columbians that need them the most.

Since last summer, over 4,400 free AC units have been installed and BC Hydro is encouraging qualifying customers to apply early to get their AC unit before the hot weather begins. Following the program launch, BC Hydro has made important changes to ensure units can be installed faster, including a new self-serve installation option for eligible customers and securing more installers. The application process has also been streamlined, and customers can visit to apply.

While air conditioning is becoming an increasingly popular option, BC Hydro is reminding customers there are additional ways to stay cool – and save money – this summer including:

  • 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, keeping doors and windows closed helps 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.

BC Hydro Media Relations
p. 604 928 6468

1 BC Hydro Residential End Use Survey 2023.