ECOLOGIC : Stay cool this summer while reducing environmental impacts

08-Apr-2019: Pavitra Sriprakash, Director and Chief Designer at Shilpa Architects Planners Designers writes a weekly column on Sustainability for The New Indian Express titled “ECOLOGIC”. This week she writes about to stay cool this summer with a smaller eco-footprint.

Full article below: (Also available at The New Indian Express Website)

Stay cool this summer while reducing environmental impacts

The heat is on in Chennai! With the mercury hitting 37 degrees Celsius in the last week of March, we have officially hit upon the summer of 2019. As always, we get miserable with the heat and humidity getting intense — the first thing we do is reach for the ACs, without considering our electric bills or environmental impacts. However, the irony is, the more energy we burn to keep ourselves cool, the warmer our environment gets.

Fortunately, we are able to take advantage of some of the latest energy efficient technologies and use our natural cooling knowledge to keep our homes cool while reducing the environmental impacts. So, here are some earth friendly ideas to reduce our carbon footprints this summer.

Being an architect, the first thing I would think to do is to reduce load. Typically, the hotter the outdoor air is, the harder our air conditioning has to work. While I spend a lot of time designing for reduced loads, those are required to be put in place before we even start building. Smart design works for new buildings, and sadly does not help the majority that already exist. In such cases, simple retrofits will help — changing windows and doors for better insulation helps keep cool air indoors once the energy has been consumed to making it cool. Wherever possible insulate — this includes walls and roofs as well. Covering our rooftops with wet jute bags will keep us cooler with less electricity. Other ways include turning off lights when possible. Drawing the drapes and other blinds during the day keeps the windows protected from direct heat radiation. This simple move is very helpful in maintaining cooler indoor temperatures.

In general, reducing the cooling load that your AC is responsible for involves keeping your house cooler by other means. One option is to have ceiling fans running along with the AC. These help to circulate cool air and also create a breeze that can make it feel cooler. Adding fans can also help keep your AC thermostat at a higher temperature — instead of the default 22 degrees, the AC can be set to 25-27 degrees and it will still feel comfortable. Turning up the temperature on the thermostat means that your air conditioning system will not have to work so hard.



Other than this, get comfortable summer friendly clothes. Our toes and feet are very sensitive to temperature to stay naturally cool. Dunking your feet in a cool bucket of water will help you stay nice and comfortable as will taking a nice long swim.
So, whatever your choice to stay cool this summer — think environment, think reduced energy loads — and hey, you might even save some money on your electricity bills!