How to cool your home over the summer

Child sitting in a sun-filled room

Direct sunlight will brighten your home, but it can also heat it significantly. (Photo: Kelli McClintock via Unsplash)

Summer is here, and many of us are relishing the long, warm days — not to mention our impending vacations. But higher temperatures can warm our homes significantly. And summer vacation can mean more people at home, which can result in higher energy bills and consumption.

It doesn’t have to, though. With the help of some simple tips and tricks, you can cool your home and save energy this summer.

Six ways to keep cool

Child playing in sprinkler

1. Cool the people, not the space

It’s much more efficient to keep people cool instead of trying to cool an entire home. Try cooling down with a cold drink and a personal fan or find a shady spot in a park or forest and spend some time outside.

Take the one nature challenge!

Cat sitting on an air conditioning unit

2. Ease off the air conditioner

Shed some layers of clothes instead and consider a programmable thermostat to help you manage your energy usage so you’re not cooling your home while no one’s there. For every two to three degrees warmer you set your air conditioner, you can save up to 10 per cent on your monthly energy bill.

Photo: pjrusello via Flickr

Light streaming through curtains

3. Close your blinds and curtains

Direct sunlight will brighten your home, but it can also heat it significantly and make your air conditioning unit work much harder. Try closing your window blinds or adjusting their angle throughout the day to reduce solar heat gain. If your windows face east, close them before you go to bed. If they face south, close them during the day, and if they face west, close them in the late afternoon and early evening.

Hands holding a bowl of salad

4. Give your oven a break

Ovens generate a lot of heat, so try to prepare foods that don’t require as much cooking, like salads and sandwiches. If you have to bake, try making smaller portions that will cook quickly in a toaster oven. And why not eat outside? Find a shady park and have a picnic.

Girl in yard with laundry hanging from a clothesline

5. Use fewer large appliances during the day

Ovens aren’t the only appliances that heat up your home. Set your dishwasher and clothes dryer to run overnight — or better yet, air dry your clothes. Not only will you take advantage of off-peak energy use times, you’ll minimize the heating effects of these appliances.

Wool dryer balls shrink drying time 

Man on roof changing air conditioning unit filter

6. Change your air conditioner filters

Dusty and dirty filters restrict airflow, which makes your A/C work harder. Make sure you replace disposable or wash reusable filters at least every three months to ensure your system runs smoothly and efficiently and provides cleaner air for you and your family.

Photo: spelio via Flickr

Want to do more?

Start by getting an energy audit. You can find energy advisers in your city or town by entering your postal code here.

There are many resources, rebates and incentives to help you make your home energy-efficient. Here are some opportunities in your province or territory.

  • The Energy Efficiency Alberta program was cancelled in 2020 and was not replaced by any other energy efficiency incentive program. Please check your municipal government for opportunities.

  • EfficiencyBC: This is B.C.’s new online hub for homeowners and businesses to access information, incentives and support to help reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in new and existing homes and buildings. EfficiencyBC incentives are administered by BC Hydro, FortisBC and BC Housing.

  • Efficiency Manitoba is a Crown corporation committed to achieving annual energy savings targets by offering costeffective programs and services to Manitobans. 

  • Save Energy NB: Find rebates or apply for the Total Home or Low-Income Energy Savings programs, which provide top-to-bottom energy savings.

  • TakeCHARGE: Get money back and enjoy lower electricity costs with tips and rebates on insulation, thermostats and lightbulbs, and get financing for energy efficient renovations.

  • The Arctic Energy Alliance provides rebates to northerners who purchase new, more energy-efficient models of products they use every day. Buying energy-efficient products will help you save energy costs while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Visit Efficiency Nova Scotia for home energy efficiency upgrade recommendations and advice (free for income-qualified homeowners) and rebates on many energy-efficient products, like heat pumps, hot water heaters and more.

  • Home Renovation Program: Receive financial assistance to improve your home’s energy efficiency.

  • The Energy Affordability Program provides support to income-eligible electricity consumers by helping them lower their monthly electricity costs and increase their home comfort with energy-saving products, upgrades and home energy needs assessments.

  • efficiencyPEI: Get rebates on installation of Energy Star–certified heating equipment, including heat pumps, water-saving devices, biomass heating devices and other energy-saving products.

  • Hydro Quebec promotional offers: Take advantage of Hydro Quebec’s promotional offers to save energy and reduce your electricity bill.

  • Visit SaskPower Efficiency Programs for energy saving tips. But please be aware that natural gas is not a climate-friendly energy source as it releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas. No energy-efficiency rebates or incentive programs were found in Saskatchewan.

  • Good Energy Quick Start Home Energy Kits: Whether you’re a renter or homeowner, this free home-energy kit will help you reduce energy use and improve comfort in your home. The Good Energy Program also offers rebates on energy-efficient appliances, windows and insulation.