Canada's Condominium Magazine

Preparing your condo for the hot summer months; and saving on high hydro costs with a little green thinking

All winter you’ve probably been looking forward to summer. But, with summer, comes extreme heat, even “heat warnings” in Toronto. You can be ready for this with a simple checklist and some possible minor maintenance. With heatwaves, comes excessive power usage, high hydro bills, and possibly dangerous conditions during “heat alerts.”

Summerize?

In November, Condo.ca featured how to winterize your condo to prepare for the colder weather. Now that summer is upon us, it is time to take a step in the opposite direction and prepare our condo for extreme heat. The weather can become unbearable, and a persons’ home should be the place where they can relax comfortably and cool off after a long day out in the sun. The following tips will help you prepare for the long summer ahead without having to fork over a lot of cash running the air conditioner 24/7.

 

Environment Canada heat alert area indicated in red.

 

Note: Some of these suggestions may not apply (for example, in a community where air-conditioning is communal, or window maintenance must be handled by property management.

(See Tips from the power utility below.)

Check the Air Conditioner

Air conditioning can account for up to 50 percent of your summer electricity bill, according to Ontario Hydro.

You will want to make sure that the air conditioner is working properly. If it is not, then try replacing the air filter and clear away any dirt and debris that may be restricting air flow. After you have done this, it should be working properly again. If not, then the property manager may need to have maintenance come take a look.

 

Environment Canada will issue heat alerts for Toronto and Southern Ontario.

 

 

Check Your Appliances

You will also want to check your refrigerator, freezer, fans, sinks, and more to ensure that they are all working properly. Bills can be extremely costly during summer and winter, so you will want to make sure that everything is working as it should. Also, you will want to have plenty of water on hand for when the heat becomes unbearable.

The Nest programmable thermostat can be controlled via an app on your smartphone. You can also program optimal heat for optimal time of day.

 

Invest in a Programmable Thermostat

If you don’t already have one, a programable — or even smart enabled — thermostat, can save many dollars on each monthly bill, and help keep you comfortable.

 

Turn Your Ceiling Fan Blades

Turning your ceiling fan blades counter-clockwise in the summer will go a long way to keep your condo cooler without overworking your air conditioner. This will keep air moving downward, creating a stronger draft. Doing this will allow you to change your thermostat settings and use the air conditioner only when necessary, which is good news for your wallet as well.

 

Weather-Stripping is Not Just for Winter

Weather-stripping your doors and winters can be a huge help. It can keep rain from leaking in, and it can also keep cool air from escaping, which will save you a lot on your electric bill. Be sure to close blinds and/or curtains on windows that get a lot of sun so that your condo does not become overheated. This will keep you comfortable, while also reducing the need for an air conditioner. Avoid dark, reflective curtain linings and metal blinds, however. They will absorb heat rather than reflecting it, making the condo even hotter.

Pet Care and Hydration

If you have pets, be sure that they always have water available. They will need to keep hydrated as much as you will. If your pet spends a lot of time in his or her kennel (such as when you are at work or on vacation), then be sure to add a water dispenser so they can still drink when necessary.

 

Tips from Ontario Hydro

Air conditioning can account for up to 50 per cent of your summer electricity bill. Try to use it only when necessary to remain comfortable. As much as possible, use it during Off-Peak hours. Use the following tips for further savings.

  • Install and use a programmable thermostat. Then you can automatically manage your air conditioning. Your energy savings will easily pay for the cost of the thermostat in the first year.
  • When you’re not at home, turn your air conditioner off, but keep your ventilation fans running to circulate the cool air. You can program the thermostat to turn on just before you get home.
  • Run your air conditioner just a little warmer and save up to $18.20 a month. Set your thermostat at 25°C for eight hours a day. Then shift to 22°C during Off-Peak hours to save.
  • When you turn on air conditioning, do not switch your thermostat to a colder setting than you need. It will not cool the room any faster.
    Reduce heat gain in your home. Drawing blinds or shades during the day on windows facing south or west can reduce your air conditioning costs by up to $14.40 a month.
  • Think fans before air conditioning. A ceiling fan can save you about $20.50 a month on cooling costs. Set your air conditioner 5°C higher, use an ENERGY STAR® qualified ceiling fan and you could reduce cooling costs by up to 30 per cent. Studies have shown that during spring and fall, the cost to operate a fan is approximately $1.70 per month vs. $21.90 per month for air conditioners.
  • Proper maintenance of your air conditioner can increase its efficiency by about five per cent. You can clean the outside compressor yourself with a hose, removing debris that impedes airflow. On average, the savings will be $4.40 a month during the summer.

Shopping for an air conditioner? Pay attention to the Energy Efficient Ratio (EER). The higher the EER of the unit, the lower the cooling costs. Replacing your old air conditioner (EER of 10) with a new unit (EER of 14) will typically save $27.40 a month during the summer.

Contact Your Local Utility Company

For further information, you can contact your local utility company. They can answer any questions you may have and give you helpful tips on how to conserve energy during the summer months.

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