Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Other air conditioning alternatives

As I mentioned in Make your own air conditioner, I want to minimize my power use. So I'm looking at alternatives to buying another window sized air conditioner (especially as none of the stores have any in stock).

One alternative I saw was to drape a cloth in a bowl of water, and blow air over the cloth with a fan. The evaporation is supposed to make the air cool. I tried this, and it didn't make any effect.

The one thing I do find helpful is to have fans blowing air directly over my body, and to have fans blowing air in from the outside. This combination makes life bearable except in the hottest of times.

Another thing which helps is to enlist the aid of the trees. Trees naturally do the evaporative cooling effect, because that's what their function is. Trees draw water out of the ground and perspire the water through their leaves. If you sit under a tree you're in an evaporative cooling zone.

The opposite kind of zone is, unfortunately, what our cities are tending to build for us. Namely, the long stretches of asphalt. Consider, what color is the most absorptive of heat? Black. What color is asphalt? Black. Why, oh why, are asphalt parking lots to hot? It's because they're black. Do you think that perhaps the abundance of asphalt parking lots in cities might contribute to the heat in cities? Yes, they do, and U.S. government scientists did study this very issue several years ago. So why do cities like to continue supporting the installation of asphalt parking lots? HeckifIknow..!!!

There is also the swamp cooler. Swamp coolers are widely used in the desert areas, and work best with dry climates. In the SF Bay Area our humidity hovers around 50%, which is the top end of the claimed humidity range where these work. Swamp coolers work by evaporating water, so of course the more readily the water evaporates the better the cooling action. I have ordered a swamp cooler and hopefully it will arrive next week.


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