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VICTORIA, BC: AUGUST 6, 2008 - Bryn Meadows, the host at a "Cooling Party" organized by the B.C. Sierra Club in Victoria, feels a bit guilty about running an environmental footprint-enhancing air conditioner in her home during the party. Cooling Parties were created to help British Columbians tackle global warming in their homes and neighbourhoods, by providing information and how to reduce household greenhouse gas emissions and conserve energy.Deddeda Stemler/The Globe and Mail

Take a bow, Saskatchewan. You're the savviest summertime energy-savers in the country. Of course you'll have to open your blinds first, so we can see you.

The summer issue of Statistics Canada's EnviroStats has a nation-wide survey on air conditioning. Many Canadians consider it to be something of a necessity, but that doesn't mean we can't be smart about when and where we use it.

Half of all Canadian homes have some form of air conditioning, but usage varies regionally. Ontario is the only province where electricity demand peaks in the summer, due to residents' prodigious application of air conditioners. Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba are also big users, reflecting the extremes of a continental climate.

There are, however, many ways to achieve coolness. And Saskatchewanians are the most conscientious province when it comes to finding alternative ways to beat the heat. Ninety-three per cent of them close their blinds or drapes during the day to keep their homes cool. They're also diligent users of fans, another cheaper alternative. It is a sensible response from a sensible province.

Half of all households with annual incomes over $100,000 let their air conditioners run while they're away from home. Lower income categories are much less likely to cool an empty house, suggesting an inverse relationship between wealth and air-conditioner intelligence. The same pattern appears when homeowners are compared with renters.

The air conditioner is one of the great inventions of the 20th century. But Canadians can get a lot smarter about the energy they waste on air conditioners. Just ask Saskatchewan.

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