How to stay cool using less air conditioning

How to stay cool using less air conditioning

This is what Africans have been doing for centuries to stay cool without air-conditioning. We need to learn from them if we are to avoid over-using energy-intensive (and costly) air-conditioning.

Using airflow to Cool Down

  1. The idea is to prevent hot air and sun from coming into your home and to bring in cold air during cooler hours (morning, late afternoon, and night).
  2. Air out your home in the morning to bring cool air in, by using only shady windows. Close sunny windows completely (including drawing shades and curtains).
  3. By midmorning, close ALL windows to prevent hot air from coming in. Keep shades and curtains drawn on sunny windows. Fans will be more effective blowing around cool air, and any a/c will have to expend less energy this way.
  4. Late afternoon, before dinner, or when the sun goes down, open all windows and shades to bring cooler air into the home. This is just as important. You want full air circulation to push hot air out. If you have a fan, or a “circulation house fan” mode as part of your central a/c, this is a good time to turn it on, as it can be used with open windows and uses very little energy (it’s under circ fan, not auto fan, which is the a/c).
  5. By the time you retire for bed, the home should be cool enough to not need any air conditioning during the night. Leave as many windows and shades/curtains open as possible at night, especially breezy windows. This is often cooler than using the a/c!

All these gestures become habitual and save lots of money, discomfort, and planetary overheating.

Using water to cool down spaces, body, food, and medication

  1. The idea is to take advantage of the fact that when water evaporates or ice melts, it takes heat energy with it.
  2. To cool down a patio/garden/balcony for afternoon or evening use, sprinkle the floor generously with water. The water will evaporate and cool it down so it doesn’t radiate heat. If you have tiles or stone, you can do this indoors too to cool down bedrooms and other living spaces. This is best done in the afternoon and evening.
  3. When walking, driving, or staying outdoors for long periods, put a wet clean white cotton shirt on your shoulders, arms, or neck (for longer effect, use a towel). Have water on hand to re-wet it when it dries. You can also wet your hair or hat, if possible. Keeping the head and back of the neck cool reduces heatstroke. Room temperature water is preferable.
  4. For a makeshift way to keep drinking water ice cold: Fill plastic water bottles halfway, and place them in the fridge diagonally, so that the spout remains clear of ice, but there is still room. Once frozen, add the other half of your water to the bottle and take it with you. To use the bottles like makeshift ice packs, fill 90% before freezing (to account for ice expansion). This is a cheap way to transport medication, food, or other heat-sensitive items during a trip. The bottles can be emptied and recycled before going through security.
  5. If you do not have access to a fridge or freezer, wrap bottles of water with a heavy wet cloth. The evaporation will keep the contents cooler. If you are close to a body of water, like a stream or beach, bury your tightly closed water bottles three quarters into the edge of the water. You can also bury heavy fruit streamside or in the waves, such as watermelon and melon, but make sure a little is visible so you can locate it later.
  6. If you get sunburnt and aloe is not available, add a dash of vinegar to clean water, soak a towel with this concoction and place it on your sunburnt skin for as long as it is comfortable. You may smell of salad dressing, but you will feel better quickly.

We also need to change our clothing to be appropriate to the temperature. There is too much focus on the long-sleeve suit or long-sleeve uniform in many workplaces around the world, to the detriment of our planet. In tropical Southeast Asia, workers often have winter jackets in the office because the air conditioning is so high. When a fan is enough, don’t put the A/C on just because you have it. Fans are much more energy-efficient.

The global warming crisis makes it clear that we need more efficient air conditioning. Perhaps inventors, engineers, and air conditioning manufacturers can learn from what Africans do to stay cool. For instance, if more Western homes had tiles or concrete instead of wood or carpet, an automatic Roomba-like robot can roll around the floor, avoiding furniture, walls, and rugs, and sprinkle minute amounts of water to cool the space. Even more effective would be to build homes with vaulted ceilings that have a window and fan system to whisk hot air out of the space, since hot air rises and cool air sinks. Another idea is to build a double floor, so that a waterproof floor sits under a grate, underneath the actual floor. This underlying waterproof floor can be sprinkled with a light mist as needed. The water evaporating underneath would help cool down the space.

We all need to be thinking about cooling down in creative ways that don’t kill our atmospheric balance. Every kilowatt we save reduces the severity of the man-made disasters our children and their children will face.



Source Credit: This article originally appeared on Wall Street International by . Read the original article -