Singapore lies near the equator and as a tropical city state, we have summer all around except for the monsoon season. As such, Singaporeans thrive on being indoors to avoid too much ultraviolet ray and the intense heat, growing stronger with rising temperature and the humidity causing the sticky feeling on the skin.
Air-conditioning has been a necessity for life in Singapore, from shopping malls, public buildings to almost all homes. However, air conditioning contributes to global warming and as more Singaporeans grow conscious about the need to reduce carbon footprint, there is that reluctance to give up the comfort cool air offered by air conditioning.
Air conditioning not only forces power plants to burn more fossil fuels, making hot nights even hotter, it also increases utility bills. What can you do, if you are ecologically and/or cost conscious, to drive down the temperature before you decide to turn on the AC as a last resort?
Understanding heat and humidity
Although we all heat to sweat and feel sticky the entire day with our clothes sticky on our backs with the high humidity, sweating is actually what our bodies do to help itself return to its core temperature. When the droplets of water on your skin transition from liquid to gas, the evaporation pulls warmth away from the body, cooling the blood underneath your skin, which returns to your body’s core and reduces your body’s overall temperature.
However, moisture in the air stalls this process from taking place, Humidity is the amount of water vapor the atmosphere can hold. The more humid it is, the harder it is for sweat to evaporate because there simply isn’t enough space for the atmosphere to hold more water.
Therefore, the higher the humidity, especially during summer and in tropical countries, sweat becomes less effective in helping to lower your body temperature. To help your sweat to evaporate off your skin to maintain temperature, you need to keep relatively dry air moving across your body.
Control incoming sunlight
Heat enters your home via sunlight let into your space. In individual rooms, the amount of sunlight can be controlled by using blackout curtains or shades, especially in areas facing direct sunlight.
You can let sunlight into rooms where it isn’t facing the sun directly by opening the curtains in these areas. The colours of the curtain matter for the part facing the sun. As heat radiates as infrared light, colours such as red, orange and yellow will deflect the most warmth.
Besides curtains and blinds, you can also consider having window tints which can remove certain wavelengths of radiation while letting others in.
There are plants that do not require much watering as they absorb the water vapor from the atmosphere. You can consider getting houseplants like cacti, aloe and succulents, also known as “air plants” and grow them in windows or window boxes, not only do they reduce humidity in your home, they are also useful in blocking direct sunlight.
When humidity gets high and too miserable to deal with, consider getting a dehumidifier to make your room more comfortable.
Dehumidifiers are much more efficient than ACs to reduce water in the air. Although wall units can remove humidity, it must reduce water to the dew point – the temperature at which water changes from gas to liquid.
When you see water dripping out of an air conditioner, that’s your AC at a dew point. However, the dew point isn’t a fixed number. The higher the humidity, the closer the dew point is to the outdoor temperature. Therefore, don’t expect your AC to make you feel comfortable by reducing humidity, it usually leaves you feeling dry and cold instead.
Ventilate with a fan
Fans do not cool the air, they only set the air in motion. This helps to clear away your body’s evaporated perspiration and you should place them in the room to maximise air flow.
Ceiling fans also help. If you are able to turn get your ceiling fan to turn counterclockwise, they can pull hot air up and away from you. Spend some time designing a network of fans in your home to keep air moving through the rooms so you can have constant flow.
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