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As the heat rises, local experts offer some chill advice

Experts weigh in on ways to save energy and on ways to ensure those vulnerable to heat remain healthy

If the scorching weather of the past few days was any indication of our summer, you might want to make sure your hydro bills don’t rise like the temperatures.

With a winter that kept Barrie residents inside and longing for the heat, yesterday was a reminder of just how hot it can get as temperatures reached the high 30’s and felt like the mid 40’s when the humidex was factored in.

Shae Whalen, the Central and Northern Ontario General Manager at Reliance Home Comfort, said running appliances at peak hours may be convenient but convenience comes with a price tag.

“I think there are a lot of people who hear peak hours and don’t actually know when that is,” said Whalen. “A good way to remember it is basically whenever most people wouldn’t be using energy, that’s when you should.

"During the day, most people are at work and those companies are using up a ton of energy to light and cool or heat buildings," he explained. "Around 7 p.m. is a good time to wait to turn that dryer on as it would save you in the long run.”

Long daylight hours mean homeowners should keep the lights off whenever possible to save energy. He recommends shutting vents in areas of the house that are not being used to help concentrate air conditioning flow more efficiently.

Whalen said there is a high demand for calls for maintenance and repair right now for air conditioners and with many looking for relief, wait times are unavoidably long.

“Maintenance is key and people should keep reminders for themselves to do so before the hot weather gets here,” said Whalen. “Everyone is cranking that A/C right now and some are realizing that they need some kind of repair, and we’re getting the calls to show it. Nothing is worse than sweltering in your home waiting for a repair.”

Some other tips from Whalen are to check your insulation and make sure cold air isn’t escaping your home, keep your cost-effective fans rotating counter-clockwise to make sure the cool air hits you and one of the best pieces of advice for Central Ontario residents is a simple one.

“Get outside and into the lake,” said Whalen. “We’re so fortunate to be surrounded by some awesome water areas and a dip in the lake is a great way to bring your temperature down.”

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit also has some advice to help people stay healthy in this heat wave.

In a media release issued this week, they note infants and young children, people 65 years and older, people with chronic lung conditions and those on certain medications are the most vulnerable to heat-related illness.

The health unit suggests these measures to keep you and your family healthy during a heat wave:

  • Be sure to drink plenty of fluids (non-caffeinated). Don’t wait until you feel thirsty – that’s a sign that your body is already becoming dehydrated
  • Stay cool indoors and if possible, seek out an air-conditioned place
  • If you must be outside, stay in the shade and make sure you wear and reapply sunscreen, a broad-brimmed hat, sunglasses and wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing
  • Electric fans provide comfort by increasing evaporation; however, when the conditions are extreme, fans will not prevent heat-related illness
  • Keep physical activity to a minimum
  • Draw blinds/curtains to prevent radiant heat from entering homes.

The initial signs of heat exhaustion include feeling hot, uncomfortable or lethargic and experiencing a loss of appetite. If symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, throbbing headache, chest pain, dry skin (no sweating), problem breathing and/or confusion develop, you should seek medical attention.

More information about coping with extreme heat can be found on the health unit’s website at or by calling call Health Connection, at 721-7520 (1-877-721-7520) Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.