How to cool your home during a heat wave

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By Solarina Ho

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TORONTO (CTV Network) — Millions of people are struggling with high temperatures reaching 30 and humid values ​​reaching 40 or more.

Staying cool can be a challenge, especially for seniors or those working from home who don’t have air conditioning or convenient access to public spaces like libraries and shopping malls. The heatwave that has swept through many parts of Europe has already killed more than a thousand people, while last year’s record high temperatures in British Columbia are estimated to have killed nearly 600 people, with the majority of deaths being people aged 70 and over.

Statistics Canada data released in October 2021 shows that 61% of Canadian households have some type of air conditioning unit and only 42% have a central air conditioner. While many Ontarians have air conditioning, data indicates that in Quebec only 59% have some type of air conditioning and only 27% have central air conditioning.

CTVNews.ca spoke to Jennifer McArthur, associate professor of architectural science at Toronto Metropolitan University, for advice on immediate and long-term solutions to keep your home cool. IMMEDIATE SOLUTIONS

Close your blinds and curtains. According to the US Department of Energy, approximately 76% of the sunlight that passes through standard windows is converted into heat. This can be useful in the winter, but in the summer window coverings keep the heat out, especially in rooms exposed to the sun. Light-colored blinds and curtains in particular will help deflect more heat.

“The blinds actually trap heat between them and the window, so you want to lower the blinds basically in the morning and keep them on all day,” said McArthur, who is also a member of Canada Green’s Ontario Regional Advisory Board. Building. Council and a certified energy manager.

“You don’t want to run them up and down because that releases some of the heat into the house. But if you have the option of shading the window from the outside, it will be 100 times more effective, because the sunlight doesn’t even enter your house in the first place.

You can open your windows if the outside temperature drops below 22 or 23 C and it is not too humid.

If it gets cold at night, open all the windows, run your fans, bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans to try to get as much cool air into the house as possible. It also helps limit pollutants that build up inside your home and keeps you healthier.

“You’re basically trying to purge all the heat that’s built up in the house overnight. And then as soon as the temperatures start to rise, or as soon as it gets humid, you want to shut it down because your body feels a lot warmer at 23 degrees and humid than at 23 degrees and dry.

How to use fans effectively. If you have a ceiling fan, make sure it spins the right way. In the winter, blowing can help push heat from the top of the room down. In the summer, it should blow or spin counter-clockwise when you look up. You should be able to feel the fan when standing under it, McArthur said.

If you have an air conditioner, using fans with the air conditioner can also help reduce your energy bill, according to Natural Resources Canada.

McArthur recommends drinking hot rather than cold fluids and taking hot rather than cold showers to help maximize ventilator effectiveness.

“It’s going to sound really, really counterproductive, but the best way to cool down is to sweat it out,” she said.

“What it does is it actually gets all the blood flowing closer to the surface of your skin and it makes it easier for your body to reject that heat with the breeze.”

Although bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans can help exhaust air, do not run them 24/7, especially in hot weather. Instead, run them at night when the air is cooler or after a rain when the air has temporarily cooled.

“Nature abhors a vacuum, so all the air you push out of the house will be replaced by air from outside, so if you don’t want that air coming into your house, don’t operate. these fans unless you’re cooking yourself or you need them,” McArthur said.

Some hacks have suggested placing a bowl of ice cream in front of a fan as another way to create cool air. Unless you picked up the ice from a gas station or grocery store, McArthur noted that the heat generated from making ice cubes is released into the home through the back of the refrigerator, which can ultimately be counterproductive. productive.

A cold, damp sheet. You can also drape a damp sheet or other lightweight cotton fabric over a pop-up tent or clothes horse. Evaporative cooling can really help cool you down, McArthur says, especially if he’s in front of a fan. It’s not something you want to do for too long, though, as the trade-off for immediate heat relief is that it will add some humidity to the air and might make your house feel a little damp afterwards, she warned.

Minimize the use of major appliances during the day. If you can, skip the stove and oven and fire up the barbecue instead. Or if you are able, close the kitchen while you cook and run the stove exhaust to remove the heat from the house. Microwaves, for those who use them, are another method that generates less heat. Insulated electric kettles are also faster and more efficient than boiling a pot on the stove. It’s also the best time of year to skip the energy-intensive clothes dryer and hang your clothes outside.

Using rugged gaming computers can also heat up a room.

“But that kind of escape might also be better for your sanity in the heat, so those trade-offs are really up to everyone,” McArthur said. LONG TERM INVESTMENTS

Turn off your incandescent and halogen lights. If you haven’t done so already, replace your old bulbs with LEDs. Not only do LEDs last years longer, consume much less energy, but they also don’t generate huge amounts of heat like halogens and incandescent lamps do.

Block the sun from outside. As mentioned earlier, covering windows from the outside is more effective than closing your curtains or blinds. Awnings and shutters, for example, can help keep sunlight out. According to the US Department of Energy, awnings over the window can reduce solar heat up to 65% on south-facing windows and up to 77% on west-facing windows.

But the best long-term solution is actually to use nature, says McArthur.

“The gold standard for passive design is actually to have deciduous trees on the outside so they don’t block the sun in the winter and they block the sun in the summer,” he said. she declared.

“They also add local cooling because the trees actually evaporate a lot of water into the air, and this process actually cools the air around them. So the trees are actively cooling.

An example would be walking through a forest from a field on a hot day — the temperature difference isn’t just from shading, McArthur explained. In addition to deciduous trees, hedges, climbing plants on a trellis can all help. However, she cautions against using ivy, which can cause structural damage to brickwork, and recommends seeking advice from a botanist.

Install weatherstripping and close your windows. This is a “no-brainer” that will pay for itself year-round, McArthur says, because it will keep cold air out of your home in the winter and warm air out in the summer. Door sweeps can also help keep the air inside fresh.

Update your windows. If you are planning to replace your aging and leaky windows, consider getting them with a special coating or tint. Even a lightly tinted window will significantly reduce the amount of heat passing through without affecting the ability to see through, McArthur said.

Updating your roof. If you plan to re-shingle your roof, choose a light color. A silver gray shingle will reflect much more heat and light than a black shingle. You can ask about the surface reflectance index of the shingle, which indicates how hot it will be in the sun. Installing solar panels is another way to use sunlight, but also reduce the amount of heat absorbed by the roof itself.

Consider installing an energy recovery ventilator. These systems help replace stale indoor air with fresh outdoor air, removing pollutants. It transfers heat from one airflow to another, McArthur explained, so in the summer the exchange of air causes the warm air outside to lose heat to the air inside. stale but fresher. If you have an air conditioner, the system also reduces the amount of energy your air conditioner has to expend to cool your home.

Check your insulation. The easiest way to check if you have enough insulation is to look at your roof from the street in winter. If there are patches of melted snow or you have less snow and ice than your neighbors, then you may have an insulation problem. You can also hire someone to perform an energy audit.

“But above a certain point it gets overkill and it’s not really helpful,” McArthur said, adding that some types of insulation are energy-intensive and worse for the environment.

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Sonja Puzic

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