It hasnt been hard to beat the heat these last couple of summers. Both 2009 and 2008 saw unseasonably chilly and wet weather across most of Canada.
Well, get ready to break out the air conditioner again. Environment Canada is forecasting that 2010 will be back to normal if anything, this summer will be a little longer and hotter than average across most of Canada. (A record-breaking heat wave already had Ontario sweltering at the end of May.) So theres no better time for a few well-considered tips on keeping our houses/apartments/condos at least a few degrees cooler, at minimal expense, during the inevitable heat waves to come. .
Close the bedroom door during the day
Ken Elsey, president and CEO of the Canadian Energy Efficiency Alliance, says this works wonders for him.
Hot air rises, right? he says. So the second floor is hotter than the first, and people will crank the A/C to get the bedroom cool enough to sleep. Closing the door is a very simple measure that prevents cool air from leaving the bedroom, meaning it takes less A/C to cool it down, if any.
Close the windows all of them
Its simple thermodynamics. If its 30 degrees outside and 25 inside, opening the windows will not let in a cool breeze; it will let in warmer air. Keep the house shady and shut during daylight hours. Once temperatures drop in the evening, open the house to those refreshing breezes.
Use a booster fan
If youre in a two-storey house its hard to get the cool air upstairs, Elsey says. You can put booster fans on the ventilation system that leads to the bedroom and theyll draw up cooler air that would otherwise stay on the first floor. There are also booster fans that fit into your existing registers, and you can just put them in and theyll draw up significantly more cold air.
The fans themselves (available for around $40at most hardware stores) suck up a bit of energy, but youll end up using less A/C.
Even cheaper, take one a standard stand-alone fans and set it up at an open basement door, and let it pull cooler air upstairs.
Turn off the ceiling fan
If no ones around, that is. A fan creates a nice breeze, but if no ones there to enjoy it, leaving a fan running all day wont cool down a room. Itll just move the warm air around. (In fact, the excess heat generated by the motor will warm the room up, albeit imperceptibly.)
Seal and insulate air ducts
If you have central air, chances are a lot of cool air from the A/C is escaping in your basement via the joints in the ducts. Elsey recommends sealing up the ducts with what else tape. Not duct tape exactly, but an aluminum-backed adhesive designed to resist moisture and extreme temperatures. (Less than $5at most hardware stores.)
It does an amazing job, Elsey enthuses.
Sleep with a wet blanket
No, really. If it gets so hot and sticky and unbearable that sleep seems impossible, fill the bathtub with cold water and soak a large towel in it. Run it through the dryer on the air dry setting (no heat) until its only damp-ish. Use it as a blanket.
Use the barbecue
Youve got to eat, if youre trying to keep the temperature down, heating an oven to 400 degrees in the middle of your kitchen every night is counter-productive.
Barbecuing may not exactly be a net energy conserver whether your grill is gas, propane, electric or charcoal, it costs money to fuel up but it will keep the house more comfortable. And of course, its delicious.