Have you ever been prompted to put on a sweater or a jacket in the middle of the summer while inside a building? Seems like a downright waste of energy doesn’t it? Well it happens a lot in North America and I find it completely ridiculous.
This weekend is my first weekend in what seems like several months that I’ve had a chance to stay home the entire weekend and relax. I’ve been doing lots of reading for the History of Espionage course I’m enrolled in, and Han and I watched a movie last night. It feels surreal after a busy summer of kayaking, camping, vacations, events, parties, weddings, etc. I love having time to read and being back in school (part-time) is a good feeling.
Now, getting back to the concern I have with air conditioners. Instead of just preaching what I think is right, I try to practice what I think is right first. Summers in Toronto are known by Canadians across the country as extremely hot and humid (Relatively speaking of course). My building is equipped with air conditioning units in each loft, and over the last 2 summers since I got the loft, I don’t think I’ve had to turn on the air conditioner more than a half dozen times each summer (And it was typically only during the day).
Opening windows is a much more energy efficient way to cool down. Given the logistical challenges of having a street-level loft with windows only on one wall, we had to be a little bit creative in cooling our unit down without A/C.
One approach we’ve found to be very effective is to open a window or two and then turn on the bathroom fans to suck in air from the outside. At night time this approach has been very successful to create a cool breeze throughout the unit while we’re sleeping. Even though we only have one small upstairs window open, it was still enough to suction a sufficient amount of breeze to cool us down. (If your home isn’t as open concept as ours, you’ll need to leave bedroom doors open to let the wind blow through).
Another great way to avoid the A/C is to have a small fan or two in the house. They are much more energy efficient than A/C and at night time you really only need to cool down your bedroom. Why waste energy to cool your entire home when you’re only in one room the whole night? Fans come in very handy on the extremely hot and humid days as well.
The last more obvious approach is I always dress down while inside (shorts and t-shirt or no shirt), and I use a thin bed sheet or sleep on top of the blankets. Similar to the winter approach of wearing more clothes to keep warm, in the summer we wear less clothes.
There are some positive side-effects to using these approaches. Outside air quality is usually much fresher and healthier than indoor air quality, and by having a breeze in your house, your clothes will dry faster (If you hang them like me). The most obvious side-effect is a lower energy bill, but I find most people use this as an excuse not to take these measures. I’ve heard people say “If I’m only going to save say $50 a year on my energy bill by not doing this or that, why should I bother?”.
Although these things seem very obvious, most people could care less about actually practicing them. I’m hopeful that the day will come that people will do these types of things not because there is a financial incentive, but because there is an incentive to help preserve the earth’s resources by reducing energy consumption and by using renewable sources of energy.