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Power Smart tips to help you stay cool and save

Image of BC Hydro's Curtis Staniforth
BC Hydro Community Outreach Representative Curtis Staniforth explains a few ways to stay comfortable this summer without breaking the bank.

Don't let summer heat stop you from saving

Posted by Curtis Staniforth

Who doesn't want to be cool this summer?

Staying cool in the summer months can be challenging and even a little expensive, if you opt to use air conditioning. However, there are some simple changes that you can make at home, and some refreshingly energy-efficient products that will help you keep your home at a comfortable temperature.

Start with some easy tips that don't cost much, or anything at all:

  • If you have ceiling fans in your home, switch them to rotate in a counter clockwise direction during the summer. This will create an artificial "wind chill" effect that helps you feel comfortable when temperatures rise.
  • Window coverings have more to offer than just style; used properly, drapes and blinds can make a significant dent in your cooling costs. On sunny days, close drapes to block out the sun and heat. If you use blinds, tilt the slats upward so that they reflect both light and heat out away from your home.
  • If you're making changes to your outdoor space, install shades, awnings, and plant shade trees along sun-facing windows to help prevent overheating from the sunlight.
  • An indoor-outdoor thermometer is a great tool to help determine when the outside temperature drops below the inside temperature. When this occurs opening windows and doors will help to cool your home as opposed to heating it up.

Make the hotter outside temperatures work for you

Selecting a cool central air conditioning unit

Heating and cooling costs account for nearly half your home's total energy bill. If your central air conditioning unit is more than 10 years old, it's recommended that you replace it with an ENERGY STAR® model.

To ensure your air conditioning unit is the optimal size for your home, look to the ENERGY STAR guide to ensure the greatest energy efficiency and home comfort.

No matter the age of your air conditioning unit, you can save money and electricity by installing programmable thermostats; these help to ensure your central air conditioner is working only when it needs to be, resulting in a reduction of up to 10 per cent of your cooling costs.

Choosing the right size of air conditioner for your home can make a big difference. The size of your room that you're cooling, how many people are usually occupying the space, and where you'll be installing the unit, can all help determine the most efficient size for your needs.

Selecting a stylish (and efficient) fan

Fans are a great option to help cool your home, and can be much less expensive to operate than air conditioners. Be sure to look for these features to ensure efficiency and comfort:

  • ENERGY STAR fans use about 20 per cent less energy compared to standard models.
  • Consider the quality and construction of the fan; this can have a significant effect on how noisy the fan is during operation and how long it lasts.
  • The size of your room that you are hoping to cool will also require a certain fan size and fan type. Follow these recommended sizes for your room:
Room Size Less than 50 sq. ft. Up to 75 sq. ft Up to 100 sq. ft. Up to 400 sq. ft.
Fan Size 75 cm 90 cm 105 cm 125–135 cm
  • Ceiling fans and oscillating pedestal fans will work best in larger bedrooms and living rooms. Alternatively, portable fans and table fans are best suited to cool down smaller rooms and your personal space.
  • If you're using only fans and not air conditioning, consider leaving internal doors and windows open so that constant air flow can occur during the cooler evening hours. Placing your portable fans near windows will help to bring in this cooler evening air, which will help to decrease your home's temperature.

Curtis Staniforth is a Community Outreach representative with BC Hydro in Victoria who educates customers on Vancouver Island on ways to save energy and money.