As our climate changes, in addition to being energy-efficient, homes in Toronto need to be resilient to the shocks and stresses of extreme weather.
Due to climate change, we will experience hotter daily temperatures and more heat waves in future. While such temperatures are uncomfortable for all, older adults, infants, young children, people with chronic illnesses, limited mobility, and who live alone are most at risk of heat related illnesses. This includes heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat fainting, heat rash and muscle cramps. These effects are preventable and you can take action to reduce your risk.
What to Do
Homeowners of detached, semi-detached or row-homes can take a number of actions to prepare for extreme heat, such as:
- Install air conditioners (central or room). Also consider a ceiling fan or heat pumps (air-source, ductless or ground-source) that use less energy and provide cooling during summer and heating during winter.
- Make changes to your building envelope (air sealing, insulation, windows and doors), to keep the heat out and maximize the efficiency of your cooling appliance.
- Install a green roof or cool roof, which can be subsidized by the City of Toronto’s Eco-Roof Incentive Program. This can make your home cooler and reduce the need for air conditioning as well.
- Plant a tree or erect a shade structure that can provide shade to your house. You can submit a request to the City of Toronto to plant a tree for free adjacent to your property by calling 311 or apply online.
Tenants living in homes without air-conditioning can use a room air-conditioner or a fan for cooling. Check with property management or your landlord about installation of window air-conditioners.
Both homeowners and tenants take the following steps as well:
- Cover windows with drapes or shades.
- Use window reflectors such as aluminium foil-covered cardboard to reflect heat.
- Use a fan properly and not in closed rooms. Use it to bring in cool air from outside through window. Do not use if the temperature is greater than 34⁰C in the room. Blowing hot air on yourself can accelerate heat exhaustion.
- If your home is not cool enough, find a cool space near you for heat relief.
- Check if any of your family, friends and neighbours could need assistance during an extreme heat event and check on them during such an event.
- Take other steps to reduce your personal risk during extreme heat.