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Best bets on staying cool

Staying cool through B.C. summers can be tough – especially since they seem to be getting hotter each year. We've rounded up some of the best ways to beat the heat without raising the roof on your electricity bill.

Keep the heat out in the first place

There are a number of low-cost ways to keep the heat from coming into your home in the summer. From window coverings to draftproofing, here are our top tips:

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    Keep the blinds or curtains closed, especially in rooms that are exposed to direct sunlight. They can block up to 65% of the heat that enters your home through the windows.

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    Although it may be nice to have a breeze flowing through your home, keeping windows closed during the day and open during the evening will allow cool air to flow through your home, rather than warm.

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    Draftproofing – it doesn't just help through the winter months, it can keep the heat out too. Sealing gaps and cracks helps block the warm air from sneaking through, keeping your home cool through the summer.

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    Cut back on the amount of heat you generate inside your home. Using small appliances, hanging laundry to dry and opting for no-cook recipes can all help reduce your home's temperature.

Use fans to promote good airflow

You don't need to go out and buy the latest and greatest fan for good airflow. Ceiling fans are actually the most energy-efficient option. And if you're using a standard portable table or floor fan – placement in your home is key.

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    Ceiling fans can use one-tenth the energy of an air conditioner. To lower indoor temperatures by up to 10%, make sure the fan is rotating counter-clockwise.

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    Placing a portable fan near a window in the cool evening or morning hours can draw the cooler outside air into your home.

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    Positioning a fan to face you while you're sitting or sleeping will be sure to keep you cool.

AC to the rescue

If all else fails and you feel like you still need an air conditioner, make sure you choose an ENERGY STAR® model that's the right size for your needs to minimize your costs. See our tips on choosing the right air conditioner.

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    ENERGY STAR® AC models use 30-40% less energy than other models. Look for the ENERGY STAR® logo on the box.

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    Check the cooling capacity of the model you're choosing and make sure it matches the total floor space you're looking to cool. This is usually indicated in square footage.

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    While you're home, 25.5°C (78°F) is the optimal temperature for energy efficiency. If you'll be out for just a couple of hours, 28°C (82°F) will keep your home at an ideal temperature. If you'll be gone the whole day, make sure to turn it off until you get home.

A heat pump can heat and cool

If you're planning a major renovation or building a new home, consider a heat pump as a way to bump up your cooling options.

A heat pump uses electricity to move heat from one place to another. It works in the same basic way as a refrigerator. In the heating mode, a heat pump extracts heat from outside the house and delivers it to the house. In cooling mode, the cycle is reversed; heat is taken from the house and moved to the outside. Because electricity in a heat pump is used to move heat, rather than to generate it, the heat pump can deliver more energy than it consumes, and is far more efficient than any type of electric resistance heat.