In this blog post, you’ll learn how to reduce your electricity bill during a heatwave.

In late June, a record-breaking heat dome hovered over most of British Columbia, Northern Alberta, Vancouver, and some parts of the Yukon and other Northwest Territories lasting for several days.

Heat domes happen when strong ridges of high-pressure trap in the hot air that exists over the ocean, specifically from the jet stream migrating north. These ridges act as a dome—hence the name—allowing the sun’s heat to amplify within the dome, creating a heatwave. 

In this case, the heat dome’s effect created unprecedented heatwave temperatures, reaching 49.5 degrees Celsius. These record-breaking temperatures left no choice but for the province to put all of its territories under a strict heat warning.

Experts in Vancouver say that the hottest days of summer are yet to come, which may bring more heat advisories with them. However, it’s unlikely another heat dome like this one will happen for a long time—hopefully.

Of course, while alarming temperatures are cause for concern for activities outside the home, they’re also a concern for activities inside the home. In other words, high temperatures equate to your air conditioning system working overtime, which means a hefty electricity bill for most.

If you’re wondering how to keep your electricity bill tame during these hot months, and especially during a heatwave, follow our tips below:

Cover Your Windows

Since the goal is to reduce the use of your air conditioning, you’ll need to prevent the heat from entering your home. One way to do this is by covering or adding layers to your windows to block out the sun.

The first step is to add awnings to the outside of your windows to shade them from the sun. It’s also a good idea to add shades as a first inside layer to prevent your windows from heating up.

Blinds and curtains will also do the trick, as long as you close them early in the morning before the sun has a chance to really heat things up.

As soon as the sun goes down, you can re-open your coverings. At this moment, your indoor temperature will be hotter than the outdoor temperature, so by opening your coverings, you’ll be letting heat escape.

If possible, it’s a good idea to install double-pane windows. Double-paned windows are designed with two tight layers of glass that can trap heat between them so it never enters your home. 

Adjust Your Thermostat Properly

The thermostat is what controls your entire HVAC system, but ultimately you are the one in control.

It can be tempting to lower the temperature when it gets hot out—especially during a heatwave—but the colder the thermostat temperature, the higher your electricity bill would be.

This is because your air conditioning usage accounts for up to 40% of your electricity bill!

Therefore, it’s recommended that you keep your thermostat set at 78 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the optimal temperature for keeping your home comfortable while keeping energy use via your HVAC system at a minimum.

Start Using a Fan (or Two)

While many people disagree with the 78-degree thermostat setting, what they’re forgetting is the fact that air circulation plays a crucial role in keeping your indoor temperature even and comfortable.

If you don’t have ceiling fans in your home, a few battery-operated fans would be a wise investment. Having fans will allow the air to circulate better throughout your home, which means you’ll be able to get away with running your AC a little higher than 78 degrees—which will save you even more on your electric bill.

Replace Your Light Bulbs

Traditional light bulbs can actually generate a significant amount of heat, causing them to become incredibly hot to the touch.

Aside from keeping unnecessary lights off during the day and night, replacing your old bulbs with LED bulbs as they’re known to be 80% more energy efficient. That means a lower electricity bill and less unnecessary heat in your home.

Get Used to Cold Water

You’re probably already opposed to the idea of taking a hot shower during a heatwave, to begin with, but the reminder to take colder showers bears significance.

Your water heater can account for up to 20% of your electricity bill, which is a lot. So, aside from taking colder showers, it’s also a good idea to use cold water to wash your clothes as well.

Avoid Using Appliances

Heat generating appliances like your oven, stovetop, toaster, microwave, dishwasher, dryer—and essentially anything else you can think of will undoubtedly raise your home’s indoor temperature.

If you can, order out more or dine in at your favourite local restaurants (they usually have their air conditioning on full blast). If you must cook, try to use low-energy applications like a slow cooker, or wait until the sun goes down.

Have Your HVAC Ducts Checked and Upgrade Your AC

While upgrading your air conditioner may be costly, it’s sometimes necessary as they begin to develop problems over the years which causes them to consume more energy while cooling your home.

At the very least, you should have your HVAC ducts checked to ensure there are no cracks or leaks, which leads to your cold air turning to waste and never reaching the rooms throughout your home.

Whether it’s your ducts or entire air conditioning setup, being dirty or defective will cause your entire HVAC system to work harder to get the job done, which means a higher electricity bill and greater damage down the road.

Turn Your Home Into a Smart Home

Smart homes are all the rage these days, and it’s especially beneficial when you incorporate a smart thermostat.

Smart thermostats are designed with technology that allows them to regulate the temperature inside your home accordingly with the outside temperature. They essentially work by sensing the ambient temperature and adjusting themselves automatically—which means fewer hands on the thermostat and a reduction in energy usage by up to 20%.

Keeping your home cool during a heatwave requires a little bit of sacrifice. However, when you see how low your electricity bill is and how comfortable you are, it’ll all be worth it. It’s hard to say if Vancouver or any other part of western Canada will see another record-breaking heat dome, but at least now you’ll be prepared to face the relentingly high temperature should they make their rounds again.