If they could manage to cool their desert homes 1200 years ago without electricity, why can’t we do the same?
ancient Arabic World had it all figured out when it came to air conditioning. Even though they had no electricity and often lived in extremely harsh, desert environments they were able to find a solution. They built tall wind catcher towers (or malqaf) to cool the inside of their homes. The malqaf has one face open at the top. This open side faces the prevailing wind, thus 'catching' it, and bringing it down the tower into the heart of the building to maintain air flow, thus cooling the interior of the building.
am I bringing this up now, I hear you ask! Well, as summer is officially here and this year we’re actually receiving some hot, sunny weather I expect some of you have started considering whether to install some air conditioning at home or at work. This is not a decision to be taken lightly as it could seriously hit you in the wallet and neutralize all those carbon savings you have been steadily accumulating since signing up to this project.
Most small scale
air conditioners cost between £250 and £500. It might also typically cost 30p an hour to run. That would make the total running cost nearly £50 for a week if left running continuously - not an inconsiderable sum. The environmental cost would be an additional 0.25 tonnes CO₂ contributing towards Climate Change.
There are other ways of
keeping cool inside, whatever the temperatures are doing outside. The simplest thing to do is to open your windows to create a cross-breeze. If there is not much of a natural breeze use a fan to create one; far less energy intensive than running an air-conditioning system. You should also be aiming to spend more of your time downstairs as because warm air is less dense than cooler air it ends up layered towards the top floors of a building. Make your way to the basement or lower level. It will be cooler there.
You could even try and set up your own
evaporative cooling by freezing a 3 litre bottle of water, then place it in a large bowl. Position a fan to blow over it. As the ice in the bottle melts, the air cools around them and the fan will blow that air at you. The water in the bottles can be frozen overnight and used again, repeatedly. I’m not convinced this is the most sustainable solution to a heat wave; after all a fair amount of energy would be required to freeze the bottle in the first place. However, the internet is full of other innovative ideas that might work for you including our old friend, the wind catcher, brought up to date for the 21st century.
if the environmental and financial costs don’t persuade you and you still want to install an air conditioning unit then consider the fact that it will work most effectively if you also keep all your windows and curtains closed while it’s in operation. I don’t know about you, but that’s not how I intend to watch the World Cup Final in my living room. Would you?