With the province sizzling under high temperatures, British Columbians are reaching for the dial on air conditioners or fans to keep cool, leading to a significant increase in overall electricity use.
On Thursday, July 6, BC Hydro recorded the highest peak hourly demand – the hour customers use the most electricity – of the summer at 7,255 megawatts. This is an increase of nearly 10 per cent over the previous Thursday, the utility said in a statement.
Typically, during a heat wave, BC Hydro sees a spike in peak electricity demand as customers turn on fans and air conditioners to stay cool and refrigeration units work harder.
Although there is a significant increase in provincial electricity load during a sustained heat wave, BC Hydro still records the highest demand in the winter. The highest hourly peak demand was recorded on Jan. 3, 2017, when consumption reached 10,126 megawatts between 5 and 6 p.m. This is in contrast to utilities in California and Ontario, where the highest peaks are experienced in the summer months due to the widespread use of air conditioning.
To help British Columbians stay cool in the heat while saving energy and money, BC Hydro is busting five common summer cooling myths:
- Myth: Running fans will keep empty rooms cool.
Fact: Fans are designed to cool people, not rooms. While ceiling fans are the most efficient option for cooling, running a fan in an empty room is not an effective way to keep it cool.
- Myth: Window coverings only work for blocking out the sunlight, not heat.
Fact: Window coverings are effective at blocking out 65 per cent of the heat generated by the sun. The best way to use window coverings is to close them depending on the time of day. Cover east facing windows before bed to block out the early morning sun, south facing windows during the day, and windows that face west should be covered during the late afternoon and evening.
- Myth: Keeping windows open on hot days will improve air flow in the home.
- Fact: Windows and doors should be kept closed when the temperature outside is warmer than inside. Open windows in the evening once temperatures have cooled to allow the cool air to circulate.
- Myth: Cranking the air conditioner up will cool things down faster.
Fact: Most air conditioning units have a single fan speed and will cool at the same rate no matter how high it is turned up. To minimize the cost of running an air conditioner, select an ENERGY STAR® model. They use 30 to 40 per cent less energy than standard models.