We all remember 2021’s heat dome, which showed just how hot the province can get. Summer is here again, and BC homeowners are wondering how to stay cool and keep comfortable. That’s why for our most recent CTV segment, our Window Geek Anton Van Dyk spread the word about the best ways to prevent overheating in our homes.
How can people keep cool indoors?
After last year’s heat dome, there was a lot of talk about making air conditioning part of the building code. This will cool your house down, and you’ll hear BC Hydro talk a lot about heat pumps. These pump the heat out or in, making them useful for both summer and winter. There’s huge value in having a heat pump, and it’s definitely something we recommend people do.
Is air conditioning the catch-all solution, or are there other things we can do?
People who can’t install a heat pump may consider a temporary measure such as a portable air conditioner. However, there’s been a study done by BC Hydro that shows the energy consumption of portable units is significantly higher than a permanent unit. They’ll still add comfort to your home, but they’ll also raise your energy costs in a big way.
We suggest looking at the building envelope and what you can do to prevent the heat from getting into the home in the first place.
What are some ways to go about this?
In windows, there’s a lot of modern technology such as LoE coatings. These are microscopic elements of silver that go on glass. On southern exposures of homes where the sun can be blaring on the glass, these coatings are especially helpful at reflecting and moderating heat. This is a great way to increase comfort and reduce those cooling bills.
We’ve talked before about the envelope and the drafts in winter. So it’s the same conversely for summer?
Exactly. It’s the idea of looking at the outer skin: the roof, the walls, the windows, and the doors, and improving those elements instead of using Band-Aid measures. We’ve discussed the idea of putting a sweater on your home in winter. Obviously you don’t want to do that in summer, but the more appropriate analogy would be putting an umbrella over your home to shade it and keep it cool. Better insulation also helps in terms of the building envelope.
What are some temporary options if people aren’t quite ready for the bigger changes?
The goal is to prevent the house overheating, and a common temporary measure you might want to use is external shading devices. This could be awnings over the window, or a very simple one is bamboo or wicker-type external blinds that hang from the gutter or the eaves of the roof. These can be lowered at peak sun times to block some of the heat. The second important thing to take into account is the orientation of the house and any overhangs. Larger overhangs should cover the windows and prevent too much sun getting in during hot summer days, so you may want to consider the external blinds on other windows that are more exposed. As the sun goes around the house during the day, it will really heat up the west side later on, so it’s good to make sure any windows on the west side are shaded.
There may be a common misconception about just opening up the front and back doors and hoping for the best?
If you open up two areas of the same floor, you may get a breeze to come through the home, but it may not be strong enough to actually ventilate the house. Heat rises, and the idea is to utilize the space in three dimensions. If you take the cooler side of the house, typically the north side, open up all the windows on the ground floor and any patio doors, and then go to the south side and open up windows on the upper floor, it’ll pull cooler air through the house creating a natural breeze.
We Are Your Certified Window Geeks!
We love to talk windows! We’re here to help, so if you have a question about your window project all you have to do is reach out. Contact us early in the process so that our experts can make sure everything is correct from the get-go.
For more information on this topic (and many more!) contact our local Employee Owners at 1-888-534-3333 or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Join the club and become a Window Geek yourself by signing up for our biweekly newsletter, which provides news, advice, and tips about the window industry and upcoming events, and test your window knowledge by following us on LinkedIn and Twitter.