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Saving Energy in an apartment: Summer Cooling and Air Conditioning

30 June 2009 215 views No Comment
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Some think it is far easier to save on energy if you own a house. After all, you have *almost* complete control over appliances and how they run in a house. And there is a certain degree of truth to that. You have greater responsibility over the appliances and their upkeep, but if something goes wrong, you can turn off the unit altogether and come up with an alternative solution – or replace it.

Apartments or specifically the renters that reside in them don’t have those burdens – though they are directly responsible for their own costs. This freedom is actually beneficial for most people. And although it may seem renters are restricted in what they can do to lower their cooling costs, there is actually quite a bit renters can do rather easily that has an immediate impact on their energy costs.

Cover the windows.

Most apartments come unfurnished, thus the windows are naked. This is an energy problem during all seasons. The the summer, solar heating will indirectly warm the air in a room whose windows aren’t covered. Keeping windows covered, or at least placing solar diffusion panels over the window prevents solar heating.

Use fans.

When used in combination with air conditioner units, oscillating portable fans can disperse the cooled air throughout the apartment.

Don’t overdo it on the window a/c units.

Use them wisely. It is possible to cool a small apartment completely with well thought out fan placement and a large enough window air conditioner unit placed appropriately. Given the choice, avoid placing the window a/c unit on the sunny side of your apartment – place it on the shady side. And avoid placing too many window a/c units in the apartment. Keep them in rooms that can be closed off, and the ones you use most often.

How to cool your apartment without air conditioning

Minimizing solar heating is a must here, since we are relying on typically non forced air cooling. Locate the cool side of the apartment – the one that receives no direct sunlight. Our mission is to take this air and circulate it throughout the apartment, displacing the warm air. The cool side may or may not be windy – depending on the location and your building. Take a fan and put it next to the window. Open the window, and turn the fan on. Make sure the fan is pointed inwards. This will draw cooled air into the apartment. Next, we need to get some air flow going. We have an entry point for the cooled air, now we need an exit point for the warm air. Find a window on a warm side of the house, open it, and place a fan in the window in the opposite direction. Now, turn it on low.

What we’ve done is basically force warm air out of the room and replaced it with cooler air from the outdoors. Stagnant air in your room will naturally warm up because of your body heat, daily activities, insulation in the apartment, solar heating, etc. Moving the air alone (as a typical fan would) accelerates the air and makes you feel cooler because the air is moving. But replacing the warm air with cooled air is better because we’re not just moving warm air through the the apartment – we’re moving cooler air through the apartment.

This whole process takes about 200 watts of power – compared to over 500 watts in a small air conditioner. Does it work as well? No. But it is almost 1/3 the cost.

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