Britain is once again experiencing one of the warmest summers in years and the general feeling is that warm weather will become more and more common. The greenhouse effect is starting to take it's toll and we are all needing to find ways to cool off in the heat of the day.
It is commonplace for public buildings and workplaces to have air conditioning, but very unusual for homes in the UK to have it installed as standard. Our homes are built with insulating bricks, designed to keep the heat out in the summer and the warmth in in the winter. However, even that is no longer providing the sort of cooling properties that we require. In the US air-conditioning has been commonplace for many years and it appears that the UK is heading the same way.
New builds will often have air conditioning built in or air circulation systems to encourage hot air out and keeping cool air in. For those of us in older homes, portable air-conditioning units are the way to go.
There are three main types of systems currently in use in this country:
These will transfer cooled or heated air in and out of the house through ducting using a central plant. These can be expensive to install retrospectively and can also take up valuable space. They are also less energy efficient.
Chilled water is pumped around coil units and a fan is blown over the cooled water producing cooled air. The warm water is then pumped back to the chiller unit and condensed. These most often come as portable units but are expensive.
Working in a similar way to your home refrigerator, the unit pumps refrigerant around coils and blows air across the coil. The refrigerant is pumped back again and is compressed into liquid to begin the cycle again. These can be portable units or whole room systems and are considered the best and use the least energy.
For small portable units the cost can be relatively inexpensive, starting at around £165 and going up to as much as £400 for units which will be suitable for an average sized room. The units are generally sold to accommodate room sizes, so check the size room you will be putting it in before you buy.
Most portable units will offer a minimum temperature of around 16-18 degrees Celsius and some will even heat a room in the winter to 30 degrees Celsius.
For do it yourself ideas, fans and water make good options. A garden pond or fountain is known to reduce summer temperatures in the area surrounding it and an indoor fan will help to circulate air. Fans can be free standing or attached to light fixtures. Shutters on windows will also offer indoor shade, keeping rooms cool in the summer months. Even just closing your curtains will make a huge difference.
We will all have to get used to warmer weather and learn to adjust the way we live. Perhaps it is time to introduce a little siesta in the afternoon heat. Just what the doctor ordered!