More British Columbians than ever before are turning to air conditioning to stay cool in the summer, and the province's electricity provider says that's having a big impact on their wallets.

A new report from BC Hydro says 34 per cent of British Columbians use air conditioning—that's more than triple the number that did back in 2001. The power provider also expects the upward trend to continue, since 25 per cent of those surveyed said they are considering purchasing an air conditioner this summer.

“Record heat and long stretches of dry weather are becoming the new norm in the province," said Chris O’Riley, BC Hydro’s president and CEO. “While we typically see higher electricity demand in the cold, dark winter months, summer demand for power is rising largely due to higher air conditioner usage.”

Running an air conditioner in the summer can come with a hefty price tag, the utility provider warns.

Using a central air conditioner for nine hours per day over three months will cost a customer about $300. A window unit will cost about $45.

According to BC Hydro, setting a unit even a degree lower can increase cooling costs by three per cent.

Running a fan instead would only cost $6 for the whole summer.

More homes in the Southern Interior use air conditioning than any other region in the province. It makes sense, since places like Osoyoos, Lytton and Penticton are often some of the hottest places in Canada every summer.

But air conditioning use is also increasing in the relatively mild South Coast. In the past three years, the use of portable room air conditioners in the Lower Mainland has grown by 23 per cent.

BC Hydro says that could have something to do with more people living in high-rise apartments seeking relief from the heat since glass walls and little airflow can make for a sweltering summer day.

BC Hydro has some other tips for people to save money and stay cool in the summer.

• Set the air conditioner thermostat at 25 degrees and only turn it on when outside temperatures are hotter than 30 degrees

• Only run the air conditioner when you're at home

• Close blinds and drapes during the day when it's hot outside

• Close windows when inside temperatures are cooler than outside

• Position fans near windows to move warm air out and bring cool air in during the evening

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