With hot temperatures across much of southern Manitoba, we are all struggling to find ways to keep cool. However, too much reliance on air conditioners is increasing our greenhouse gas emissions and is driving Manitoba’s electrical grid to the breaking point. Last year, blackouts across Winnipeg were attributed partly to customers cranking their air conditioners up to beat the heat.
Excess heat is a significant health and comfort issue, but where possible we should attempt to use less energy intensive ways of keeping cool. Energy used by Canadians for space cooling has increased dramatically over the past couple of decades. Between 1990 and 2007, energy used for air conditioning increased 266 per cent. Manitobans have the highest rates of air conditioning use at 80 per cent.
Consider alternatives first.
- In hot weather, keep drapes closed on sunny windows to keep out direct heat from the sun.
- Use fans to move the air and keep cool.
- Schedule activities like cooking in the cooler part of the day.
- Well placed trees and landscaping can go a long way to help cooling your home
- Green roofs can help reduce both summer cooling and winter heating costs.
- If you do opt for an electric air cooling, choices include a ground source heat pump, air source heat pump, high efficiency air units.
- There is no need to turn your home or workplace into a refrigerator! Depending on the humidity, Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety recommends that office environments be kept between 23 and 28 degrees (74 f – 82 f) during the summer. Set the thermostat just a few degrees cooler than the outside temperature. Too great a difference between indoor and outdoor environments can increase stress on your body and your health.