The Big Air Con

Now I must admit to liking my air conditioning. I prefer to be as confortable as I can. We've had a small air conditioning unit in the past just to cool our home office but this was due to it being unbearable to work in throughout summer. However, now that we've made significant design changes to the house, adding more verandahs, eaves, insulation, cross-ventilation and ceiling fans etc, I'm anticipating that air conditioning will not be required.

I do realise that there are efficient air conditioning units out there and that if you're powering it with 100% green energy (e.g. solar power) then it shouldn't be an issue. But the biggest problem I see with air conditioning is that it conditions us (pardon the pun) into the bad habit of closing up our houses and office buildings so that the artificially cooled air doesn't escape. This basically means that air conditioning and passive cross-ventilation are mutually exclusive. If we focused more on passive solar design and changing our habits (opening up our homes to the prevailing breezes) then fewer households would need air con to be comfortable.

And anyway, probably the best thing we can all do to reduce our need for air con is lose some weight! The more extra kilos you're carrying, the more heat your body will retain. I know this is true for me - I'd like to lose about 15kg, and I'm sure that doing so will add to my comfort levels without the need for the Big Air Con.

Here's some quick tips to keep you cool without requiring air conditioning:

  • Shed some body fat
  • Get a cool roof with large eaves
  • Use light-coloured paint to reflect more solar radiation
  • Wear loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing made from breathable fabric
  • Consider adding window awnings - block the sun before it even reaches your windows
  • Open doors and windows to provide maximum, natural cross-ventilation
  • Use ceiling fans or pedestal fans in those rooms that require active cooling
  • Add under-roof reflective foil and some bulk insulation (depending on your specific climate)
  • Plant a deciduous tree to shade exposed walls from summer sun, yet still allow winter sun to provide warmth (something like a pecan tree is ideal because it also provides food)
  • Plant a garden and consider adding a water feature, which will provide much more natural cooling than paving or concrete
  • Put up with the heat, as it's not likely to kill you Smile


I like ceiling fans ...

... and the suggestion to lose some weight ...