Is It Hot In Here? Or Is It Just Me?


4 minute read

May 4, 2009

Eighty-one degrees.

That was the temperature in my bedroom when I woke up on Sunday morning, thanks to the property manager in my building who has yet to switch the heating over to cooling even though it’s MAY!

Some buildings in Toronto have a user-controlled heat pump, others have a central one controlled by the building.

Let’s explore…


It happens about this time, every year, and will continue to do so for as long as I live in this building.

Every April & May, my condo gets unbearably hot because I don’t have access to central air conditioning until the entire building switches over from heating to cooling.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s nice to have all my utilities paid for in my monthly condo fees.  Most new buildings don’t include the hydro cost in the maintenance fees, and I enjoy having one less bill to pay each month.

But the silver lining about having your own, individual heat pump in your condo that you have to pay for, is that you can control it as you see fit.

Literally as easy as flicking a switch, the user can switch the heat pump over from cooling to heating in the Fall, and heating to cooling in the Spring.

But for the rest of us who don’t control our own heat pump, we are at the mercy of the building as a whole.

Sunday morning, I awoke in a pool of my own sweat.

As uncomfortable as this was, part of me was relieved that it was only sweat…

For those of you that think I’m exaggerating when I say my condo was eighty-one degrees, perhaps this photo of the temperature on my fan will add some credibility to my cause:


I awoke with the sun beating down on me through two sets of curtains, completely lost in a tangled web of pillows, sheets, and covers.

The fitted-sheet that covers my mattress was dislodged on two corners of the bed; something that can only happen after a full night of uncomfortable tossing and turning.

Two of my pillows were on the floor, and my duvet was upside-down and half inside-out; twisted, and kicked down to the bottom of my bed.

This is what happens when you try to sleep in eighty-degree heat.

The silver lining, of course, it that it could always be worse.

In the summer of 2006 when my brother, father, and I travelled to Tibet and Nepal, we spent two days in Chitwan National Park where the temperature at mid-afternoon reached an unfathomable 131-degrees Fahrenheit, or 55-degrees Celsius.

Here is a photo (blurry because I broke my camera when the elephant charged at me – true story!) of us only a half-hour after getting dressed in the morning at 10AM, already completely drenched with sweat:


So yeah, it could always be worse.

But it’s still eighty-one degrees in my condo.

Here is a diagram of how a heat pump works:


A heat pump extracts the heat that is present in outdoor air in winter and delivers it inside your home to keep you warm.

In the summer, the process reverses.  The heat pump pulls the heat out of indoor air and releases it outside to keep your home cool and dry.

So here we have a device that is responsible for BOTH heating and cooling, and thus the problem of being too hot or too cold presents itself when we reveal that many buildings in Toronto have a heat pump that is controlled by a “master” switch.

Now exactly why my property manager hasn’t felt it’s the right time to flick this switch is beyond me.

I suppose that there are a few old ladies (you know the ones that were wearing winter gloves as they pushed their walkers around the city over the weekend in 19-degree weather?) in the building that don’t want to “catch a chill,” and thus our heating/cooling system remains on “heating” even though we are in the first week of May.

At many other buildings in the city, each unit has an individual heat pump which is connected to a “loop.”  The heat pump extracts or rejects heat to the loop, and in the summer, the cooling towers on the roof of the building are used to remove heat from the loop.  Likewise in the winter, the boiler adds heat to the loop.

These “loop” systems are prevalent in Toronto condos, and each individual heat pump in each individual unit is controlled by the user.  You literally just have to flick a switch to go from heating to cooling, or vice versa.

The loop system is more expensive since you pay to run a compressor, and an argument can be made that it’s more cost-effective to have the heating/cooling system controlled by ONE source.  Not only that, buildings with individual heat pumps usually don’t include hydro in the maintenance fees.

Clearly there are pros and cons to both systems, but from where I stand, or more specifically – where I lay in a pool of my own sweat, I would much prefer to pay $30/month extra for hydro, and NOT have to spend April and May in complete and utter discomfort.

Am I making a big deal out out of nothing?

I don’t think so.

I just can’t comprehend why my property manager hasn’t even scheduled the change-over from heating to cooling, yet he is completely on top of the window-washing, carpet-cleaning, and power-washing of the underground parking.

Seriously – the property manager put the cleaning of the underground parking garage ahead of changing heating to cooling!

Oh yeah, we sweat buckets every night while tossing and turning in our sleep, but at least the pavement in the parking garage is spic-and-span!

Well, perhaps they’ll have the system switched over to cooling by June.

Fingers crossed for the third week of May!

Written By David Fleming

David Fleming is the author of Toronto Realty Blog, founded in 2007. He combined his passion for writing and real estate to create a space for honest information and two-way communication in a complex and dynamic market. David is a licensed Broker and the Broker of Record for Bosley – Toronto Realty Group

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  1. J

    at 8:46 pm

    old ladies…right… You know it dips sometimes below 0 C at night in May. And if you do live in Toronto next week Monday the 18th you will wake up freezing because it will be 0-2 C at night. Make sure you don’t complain that it’s too cold.

    Nice Day

  2. J

    at 8:50 pm

    I do agree that property managements are not doing their jobs properly or trying to avoid expenses by turning off the heat and a/c for about 6 weeks out of the year. Have at least one or the other on all the time!

    Nice Day

  3. Nataly

    at 11:26 pm

    We always have the exact opposite problem. That they decide to switch over to cooling exactly during the week that it was still 5 degrees Celsius and everyone has to freeze. Why can’t they switch it on or off according to when the weather actually turns hot/cold instead of a set date?!??? (Condo-North York)

  4. Kpizzle

    at 6:27 pm

    I’m struggling with this right now. This happens all over, not just condos, and it blows my mind. Why is the mall heating on full blast during the fall and winter when people are in sweaters and jackets and have acclimated to the cold making is feel even HOTTER? Why is the AC off when it’s an average of 15 degrees in October? My unit is hotter now than it was all summer. Never again will a purchase a condo without a four like system

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