Home Tips for Cool, Clean Indoor Air

This page is about home upgrades for climate preparedness during heat waves and smoky sky events. For overall emergency preparedness information, visit the Saanich Emergency Program and follow @saanichEP for local emergency information. 


Homes in Saanich were built for the climate of yesterday, not the climate of today and tomorrow. Climate change will bring more heat waves and wildfire smoke days to Saanich. There are three important things you can do to improve the comfort and health of your home during these events:

  1. Reduce indoor sources of heat and air pollution
  2. Keep heat and smoke out (e.g. shading, insulation, air sealing)
  3. Choose efficient air conditioning and air filtration (heat pumps are best)

If all these measures are inadequate, refer to emergency sources of information, including those noted above, for more options. 

Reduce indoor sources of heat and air pollution

Avoid as much as possible indoor heat and smoke. To reduce heat, avoid the oven, stove, dryer, dishwasher, hot water clothes washing, etc. in the hottest part of the day. Turn off appliances and lights when you aren’t using them. To reduce air pollution, refrain from burning candles, incense, smoking, cooking, etc.

Keep outside heat and smoke out

  • Provide outside shading, especially the southern or western sides of your home. This can include installing window shades/awnings/overhangs on the outside of your home and/or for the long term, planting trees to keep your home cooler. You can also use blackout curtains or other reflective material to keep out the sun’s heat.
  • Improve your home’s air sealing – see BetterHomesBC for tips Or the BC Housing Air Sealing Guide.
  • Improve your home’s insulation, which can help keep your home cool in the summer as well as warm in the winter. Rebates are available.
  • Improve your home’s windows – speak with a window professional about choosing windows for summer and winter comfort. Rebates are available.

Choose efficient air conditioning and air filtration (heat pumps are best)

  • Best option for single family home upgrades:
    • Install a heat pump for cool air and filtration. Heat pumps provide efficient cooling in the summer, heating in the winter, and air filtration, all in one. Plus, you reduce your home’s climate impact when upgrading from gas, oil, and baseboards. Heat pumps can be up to 50% more energy efficient than a typical window AC unit and they are a climate-friendly home heating and cooling system. Rebates are available.
  • Best option for stacked multi-unit building upgrades:
  • Other options:
    • Furnace air filtration: If you have a central heating system, you can run it on fan mode to benefit from recirculated air filtration. Ensure your furnace filters are regularly maintained, and have a high enough rating for your needs (more info). If your thermostat doesn’t have a fan setting, speak with a professional to set up the fan mode. Consider having a higher-rated furnace filter for the worst air quality days, and using a standard filter for the rest of the time, to achieve best air filtration when needed while saving energy the rest of the time (a higher rated filter uses more energy than a standard filter).
    • Room air cleaner: see advice from Natural Resources Canada on purchasing a room air cleaner. Renters may benefit from this investment as it can be taken with you if/when you move.
    • Room air conditioner: see advice from Natural Resources Canada on purchasing a room air conditioner. Renters may benefit from this investment as it can be taken with you if/when you move.
    • Box fan with filter: you can make an affordable air filtration system by purchasing a box fan and taping a furnace filter to it, creating a seal with the tape between the fan and the filter edge. It’s prudent to purchase these supplies before a smoky sky event, as there may be supply issues at stores during the event.

More tips on keeping your home cool in the summer, rebates available to help with your upgrade costs, and other FAQs about home upgrades, are available from the CleanBC BetterHomes website.