In our earlier post on ways we can cut down on our ‘energy bills‘, we discussed how air conditioners can turn out to be power guzzling monsters that seriously put a dent in our energy costs. We also made a fleeting remark about how there are less power consuming alternatives to air conditioners. So, in this post we have decided to make a list of five such simple contrivances and techniques that are found in the realm of electronics, furnishings as well as architecture. And the best part is – they can easily take the place of your ole air conditioner, at least periodically during the day or at times when the original appliance is broken.
1. Drench your drapes and curtains
There are times when the outside temperature is actually cooler than your room temperature. In such scenarios, you should try to open all your windows. As for notching up on the comfort level, you can also drench or spray your drapes and curtains with cold water (you can also use wet blankets to hang over your lower window opening). So the result will be – cooler winds permeating through a flexible facade of curtains and blankets. But make sure that the humidity level is not high (to begin with) because the dampness present in such wind currents can cause more discomfort than actual benefit.
2. Ice and fan makes a great combination
Let us start out with the simplest solution in the form of just your table fan. You will also need a pack of ice from your refrigerator. The set-up only requires you put the ice pack in front of the fan and then turn on the device. Now most of you have perhaps deduced by now that it is not exactly a permanent solution, given the ice will melt sooner than later. However in cases where your room has lost its ventilation credentials and turned into a hot air trap, this solution will certainly bring temporary relief to you until the repairs or renovations are done.
3. Geothermal Heat Pump
Arguably the most complex of all the cooling systems mentioned here, a geothermal heat pump utilizes earth’s balanced temperature to cool your room. How does the scope work? Well, the system comprises of two separate units for indoor and outdoors that helps in pushing water along the ground and then pumping it back to the inside. So when you require cooling, the soil absorbs the extra heat from the water piped into your floor. This mechanism reduces the energy requirement of your house’s cooling system. Now in terms of practicality, a geothermal heat pump will cost more than regular techniques. But as with the majority of non-conventional energy sources, it will make up for its initial cost by saving energy for more than 3 to 4 years.
4. Other architectural techniques
Passive architectural techniques are always conducive to controlling the temperature inside our house. In this regard, there are effective designs in the form of high insulation that efficiently mitigates your residence from any kind of outside climatic influence. Of course, it is not really practical for many of us to start re-investing in our home’s insulation credentials. However there can be some solutions that are more accessible. For example, a dark painted roof will absorb more heat from the sun, which in turn increases the temperature inside the room. Following the same principle, light painted walls tend to reflect both light and heat, thus showcasing the ‘strategic cooling value’ of various colors and wall textures.
In physical terms, hot air is lighter and hence has the tendency to rise up. So, clerestories (or ceiling level openings) can function as perfect outlets for such heated whiffs. Windows on the other hand (preferably with lower sill level) can help in inducting heavier colder air from outside.
5. Passive actions on your part
Other than just climate change, much of the heat generated in our rooms come from running electronic appliances like televisions, computers and even dish-washers. So a good way to reduce the interior temperature is to simply turn off (and unplug) these heat generating sources.
You can also opt for scheduling your windows – just shut them when the sun is up and open them during the late evening time of the day. You can also improve upon the scope of cross ventilation by strategically placed window openings or even by placing those box fans or table fans along the opposite walls of a room (close to the windows).