Cold temperatures, hot demand: Some Edmonton businesses see surge during cold snap

As Edmontonians deal with a deep freeze, some businesses are in high demand.

Edmonton has been experiencing a deep freeze since the weekend as temperatures dipped below -30 C. (Dave Bajer/CBC)

From dead batteries to broken down furnaces, some Edmonton businesses have been busy as the polar vortex has brought bone-chilling temperatures to the province this week.

The cold temperatures have been inconveniencing Edmontonians all week, leading to a sharp increase in demand for professional help.

Vehicle batteries have gone dead as the temperatures dropped below –30 C, leading to many needing boosts or towing. The Alberta Motor Association (AMA) has received close to 37,500 roadside calls over the past three days, which is eight times more than usual.

“I can absolutely assure everybody that we are doing all that we can to get to folks as soon as we possibly can. At its peak, we have actually been dealing with 600 calls every half hour, so it has been very significant,” said Jeff Kasbrick, vice president of government and stakeholder relations with AMA.

Despite many Edmontonians working from home, the demand for AMA assistance hasn’t dropped off.

“What we’ve seen is that this year is actually on pace with some of our extreme weather events that we had last year prior to the pandemic, and so that actually has been a little bit surprising,” Kasbrick said.

The cold temperatures have also caused issues for furnaces and many Edmontonians have had to call in professionals to get things up and running.

Acclaimed! Heating, Cooling, and Furnace Cleaning has reported close to a 300-per-cent increase in calls over the last couple of days.

“It’s very busy when it’s cold outside. Those furnaces are running for a really long period of time, which they haven’t been used to, certainly this year,” said Keven Lackey, owner of Acclaimed!.

“All of our service guys are running 10, 12, sometimes 14 hours a day. Even myself, I’m jumping into to get in there and do what I can as well. And if they [customers] have a really old furnace and expensive repair, a lot of folks make that long-term value decision to put a new furnace in as well. So, that’s something that we do a lot when these cold snaps are getting to us.”

Keven Lackey, owner of Acclaimed!, says his company has experienced a 300 per cent increase in furnace related calls over the past 48 hours. (CBC)

ATCO has also experienced an increase in calls related to furnace issues. Jared Anderst, manager of customer care for ATCO, said there are a few things customers can do to help their furnace work properly. 

“It’s important for people to ensure that their furnace is running properly and make sure that fresh air vents and combustion air vents are clear,” he said.  “If you have any fresh air intakes in your furnace room, just make sure that they’re not blocked.

“Ensure that you have a properly working carbon monoxide detector in the house. And also your thermostat, if it runs on batteries for the digital display, just make sure that those batteries are fresh, so that your thermostat can keep your furnace working for you.”

Slight increase in food delivery demand

Food delivery has also been in demand during the deep freeze, albeit at a less drastic increase in demand as other services.

“With the cold snap, we have seen a spike in orders in Edmonton with about six per cent more orders placed this week compared to earlier in January when it was warmer,” a SkipTheDishes spokesperson wrote in an email to CBC News.

“Across Canada, we generally see an increase in orders when cold weather hits, with more customers using Skip to get the food they love safely delivered without braving the cold.”

Luckily for Edmontonians, warmer weather is on the way — Environment Canada is forecasting a high of -2 C on Tuesday.

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