Cooling without air conditioning

Ottawa resident Joan Lawrence says the key to living without air conditioning is “taking control.”

“Calm down, slow down, get things done first thing in the morning before the sun gets too hot,” she says. “Work with the heat, instead of against it.”

Lawrence grew up without air conditioning and has lived in tropical climates as an adult, so she thinks she may be better acclimated than some to high heat and humidity. Even though her home in Ottawa has air conditioning, she still hadn’t turned it on as of August even though temperatures have often dropped below 30 C. “I told my husband we really should turn it on just to make sure it’s still working.” “, He says. She laughed. She adds that they also have a couple of large, mature trees that help keep the house cool.

It’s a choice they make to reduce their carbon footprint. Air conditioners are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions because they emit hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), man-made industrial chemicals used primarily for cooling and refrigeration. The Climate and Clean Air Coalition also says that HFCs are almost 4,000 times more damaging to the climate than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period.

the International Energy Agency reports that energy consumption for space cooling has more than tripled since 1990 and continued to grow in 2020, driven in part by people spending more time at home.

As we experience more episodes of extreme heat, keeping buildings cool is “a matter of life and death,” says Stephen Thomas, a climate solutions policy analyst at the David Suzuki Foundation.

“We need to move quickly and decisively from fossil fuels to clean energy, such as solar and wind power,” he says. That, added to “deep energy upgradesIt will make our homes more comfortable so that the use of refrigeration can be encouraged to keep people healthy.”

You may not be ready to turn off your air conditioner completely, but you can use it less, reduce your greenhouse gas emissions, and lower your electricity bill, since some air conditioning units can burn more electricity than any other appliance.

That is how:

  • Close your windows, curtains, and blinds first thing in the morning to trap in fresh air, then open them at night after the sun has set.
  • Invest in insulated blinds. “We found them fantastic,” says Lawrence. “As soon as the sun begins to fall on a particular window, the windows are closed, the shades are lowered, and the doors are closed. Then, when the sun moves, we open the blinds again and open the window or door to let in fresh air.” She says that the blinds are just as efficient at keeping the heat in during the winter months.
  • Bamboo blinds are another clever practice borrowed from tropical countries to deflect heat. You can also buy rolls of tinted window film at many hardware or auto stores. The film can be cut to fit your window to deflect heat and reduce glare and UV rays.
  • Avoid using the oven, but if you must, “set it to 6 am,” advises Lawrence. “We also have a door a meter from the oven, so I use a fan to blow the hot air out of the oven out the door instead of letting it dissipate through the house. That really helps.”
  • Wear loose cotton clothing. “Get rid of that polyester for a wide variety of reasons,” she says.
  • Use ceiling fans or oscillating floor fans as needed.
  • Turn off unnecessary lights, they all generate heat!
  • Take a cold shower before bed.
  • Keep your pillows in the freezer until bedtime.
  • Put your feet in a bowl of cold water.
  • Work from the basement if you have one.

Lawrence says that if it gets to the point where they can’t take the heat and humidity anymore, or if they have guests who have respiratory problems, “we set the air conditioning to 25C, which greatly reduces the humidity but doesn’t cool.” the house and, therefore, consume much less energy”.

The case against air conditioning and tips on how to beat the heat without it. @beckyrynor, columnist for @NatObserver reports. #Air Conditioning #Hydrofluorocarbons #GHG

His final advice: never underestimate the refreshing power of “a couple of gin and tonics.”

One little thing you can do right now is a monthly column about everyday actions we can all take to help save the planet.

Share your ideas on how to be more environmentally responsible in the comments section below.

Becky Rynor ​​is a journalist who lives in Ottawa.

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