Turning down the heat


Granville Island

In 2020 at the beginning of COVID19 sold my condo in Vancouver and moved to Courtenay BC.  I although I had stayed in Courtenay for a few weeks in the last year, I did not realize how hot, noisy and busy it had become compared to paradise. (Hornby Island)  Ironically, Vancouver had became considerably quieter with Covid-19.  Traffic was down by about 80%.  Everything was closed except grocery stores.

My new 4th floor condo in Courtenay overlooked a busy street and faces west, letting the hot evening sun stream into my floor-to-ceiling windows.  Not something the home inspector picked up on when she viewed the unit. I investigated some home cooling options and started with ceiling fans which have helped.  Then  Safe and Sound came to install window film.  Visually it looks good, a bit like looking through sun glasses. They used 3 different kinds of film, depending on the sun exposure.

Even with the window film it was  still too hot so I plugged in the portable AC I brought with me from Vancouver.   The temperature on the balcony sometimes hit 40C. The portable AC was a very good investment.  I also bought a tilting patio umbrella.  It took a while to ship umbrella as I guess they were sold out.    I tracked the temperature on an excel speadsheet  and the inside temperature has been able to be kept around 25C or less with my heat mitigation strategies  while the outside temperature goes up to 40C late in the afternoon. So here are my strategies in the order of how much I think they help:

  1. portable air conditioner $500.. prices are up to $1000+ in 2022
  2. window film $2500
  3. tilting patio umbrella $200
  4. opening windows on the north side of the building during the day,
  5. ceiling fans x 2 $500

I didn’t install cellular blinds mainly because I wanted to see what affect # 1-5 had and it was tolerable without the cellular blinds. However, after I moved out and got a tenant I installed cellular blinds in the north facing bedroom that she uses as an office. Some of the heat on the 4th floor is a result of the heat rising from the other floors in the building.  Really the whole building should have air conditioning.

I moved to a new condo with cellular blinds on the south facing window but the cord on the Select Blinds broke so I had to get new Levelor blinds form Home Depot which took several months to arrive. The cellular blinds were effective at blocking the heat in the summer and cold in the winter but the cord stopped working and I had to get the blind replaced which took several more months. During all the blinds business, the government of Canada banned blinds with cords. So now the options are limited to wands or remote control. In retrospect I would had preferred the remote control that can be managed from your phone.

I subsequently found a used Noma portable air conditioner with a remote control that works with my programmable thermostat that operates from my iphone. Very Cool literally and figuratively. The device for the portable AC costs $ 140 and was surprisingly easy to set up in you have a MYSA Thermostat..

As I was finishing the heat management project, the strata council announced they were approving a process to install heat pumps. I got a quote for $10,000 per condo. Further research on the topic shed more light on heat mitigating strategies. Unfortunately the rebates for heat pumps do not apply to condos. There is a GST exemption in BC for purchase of heat pumps for condos. However, the experts on managing building temperature recommend double or triple glazing windows as the most effective strategy followed by canopies. Essentially they recommend heat blocking before air conditioning as a more ecological solution.

Other resources:



Ok  I think this project is done for now!