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B.C. heat wave to send water, hydro demand skyrocketing

Things are about to start heating up around the Lower Mainland.

CityNews Meteorologist Michael Kuss says the heat will really start to build around B.C. on Saturday.

“Highs will touch 30 degrees away from the water in the Lower Mainland. The two hottest days come Sunday and Monday with highs in the low 30s and warmer overnight lows around 16 degrees. A string of scorching days hit the Okanagan as temperatures soar to 37 degrees from Monday through Wednesday.”

With the mercury rising, any way you try to keep cool will likely put pressure on local power and water systems.

BC Hydro says it’s installed 11,000 air conditioners as part of a provincial program to help vulnerable low-income individuals. The utility adds about 3,500 applications are currently being processed and installation should occur over the next month.

It says about 76 per cent of the approved air conditioner units are in the Lower Mainland.

As for usage, the crown corporation is bracing for demand to skyrocket.

“We are expecting British Columbians to crank up their air conditioning units,” said spokesperson Kevin Aquino. “But I would like to note, here in B.C. and at BC Hydro, we are a winter-peaky utility, so we do see the highest demand for electricity in the winter months. Typically, what we do see in the summer is, at peak energy demand, it’s about three-quarters of what we see in the winter.”

Aquino says there are ways to cool down without driving up your bill.

“One simple way is to make sure you’re using your blinds effectively and when you do shade your apartment or your home, you’re blocking up to 65 per cent of the heat coming in. The other thing we do recommend is using Energy Star appliances. They do use less electricity,” Aquino added.

The heat wave will also be closely monitored for water usage.

“Our water reservoir levels are in good shape right now. We’ve had a lot less snowpack this year … so, we have virtually no snowpack left, which is what we rely on usually through the later months, later July and August,” warned Vanessa Anthony, director of Policy and Planning for Water Services at Metro Vancouver.

The region is currently in Stage 1 water restrictions, meaning residents are only allowed to water their lawns for about an hour each week.

“Everyone does need to do their part to follow the watering restrictions in place to ensure we have enough to last us through the hot and dry summer,” added Anthony.

As a result, she says they’re really encouraging everyone to ease up on how much water they’re using.

“Right now, there’s not really a concern with people filling up their pools and if everyone does their part and follows Stage 1 [water restrictions], we could be just staying there for the rest of the season. It really depends on how people use their water, so if they conserve it and use it where it’s needed most — drinking, cooking, cleaning — we will hopefully be in good shape throughout the summer.”

Anthony explains water restrictions usually go up because of uses outside the home.

“It goes up by 50 per cent in the summer, largely due to the outdoor water use, so that’s really where we ask people to put their focus to conserve.”

Listen to CityNews 1130 for traffic and weather updates every 10 minutes on the ones. You can also follow @CityNewsTraffic and Meteorologist Michael Kuss on X and subscribe to breaking news alerts sent directly to your inbox.

-With files from Michael Williams and Maria Vinca

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