I was not very interested in writing this article earlier. I had taken it for granted that fellow citizens too were thinking and doing something like this. Today I read an established environmental organization’s article blaming AC’s for making Delhi an oven. Poor AC’s working to give us comfort. Well they do produce a lot of heat and heat is trapped because of pollution, leading to extreme heat wave in northern parts of India. Though blamed heavily we can partially make ‘Air-Conditioners Green’.
When I came to Bangalore 10 long years ago this was an air conditioned city. We had to wear light jackets all year round and inside the office too. Many a times we had to argue with our colleagues who would not let us reduce cooling. Home AC’s were not required. Slowly fancy corporate buildings with whole glass and steel structures started increasing and so was temperature. It is a well-known fact that glass buildings need more cooling and heating.[a , b]
This lead to more AC’s and more heat. It’s all cyclic and blaming one won’t help. Anyway here are couple of tips which every home having an AC can follow. This can reduce some impact on environment indirectly. Also don’t forget to get 5 star rated AC and have regular maintenances.
Collect condensed water– The water that condensates due to hot humid air coming in contact with cooling coils drips out of the AC units. On a hot summer night when AC is used for good 8 hours, for a family of 4, we can collect minimum of three buckets of water. Have checked it myself many times. This water is technically distilled water not having any hardness or minerals but since it comes in contact with coils and pipes it can harbour some paint residues or some bacteria but otherwise it’s good for almost any household work. Good for toilet flushes, sweeping, washing cars and many other. In humid monsoon season this can increase to 4 buckets or 50-60 litres of water. This water is good for watering non-eatable plants but since it’s devoid of nutrients prolonged use is not advised.
In our city we are surviving on ground water only and getting 4-5 buckets like this every day can allow ground water to last for some more years. A practical system would take a big drum with a hole in the lid to put the AC pipe into it and keep on collecting water everyday.(photo)
Once I was able to peek into the central AC control room in a corporate building and all I could see and hear was water flowing like a mini stream into the drain. Wouldn’t it be nice if they could have stored all that water for toilets instead of just letting it go into the drain. Last month we went to Goa and the resort had an innovative way of using this water. Every room which had AC had a nice perennial flower bed below it. A self-watering garden. Check the photo taken at the resort( Colonia Santa Maria, Baga Goa).
Use the heat given out– I must admit that this had not come to my mind as heat is not something we can see . I first saw this in my relatives place. He lives in an apartment and doesn’t get good sunlight in his balcony. He placed his AC such that the hot air dries the wet clothes very quickly just like a drier, crisp and hot. Check the attached photo(sorry not a very pleasant photo)
This is best for monsoons. Hot and humid weather doesn’t allow clothes to dry faster and there is very little time window when rain stops. Using AC blast in that time window dries his clothes fast and without the rainy season smell. We have five full months of rains in Bangalore. Checking the web I could not find any other reference to such practise as the temperature difference between the ambient and hot air is not sufficient. [c]
If technically it’s not possible to capture this heat we do need some innovative thinking like my relative. By the way he works in a big organization where almost all his office buildings are made of glass and steel structures……..Ironical 🙂