Air-conditioning bullshit (roundup)

Thursday 15 September 2011, 6.30pm HKT


WELL, it had to happen sooner or later.

Because of the sweltering heat and soupy humidity, the lack of AC and various other annoying things, some of you will have noticed the snafus in numbering for the 10-part feature “Air-conditioning myths exploded.”

This post rounds up the whole series as follows:

Part 1 – Air-conditioning myths exploded

Part 2 – Thermostat setting at 25°C is all wrong

Part 3 – Not AC and fan together

Part 4 – Temperature is relatively relative

Part 5 – Lower temperatures cost more?

Part 6 – Metabolism doesn’t count, not really

Part 7 – Temperature and humidity for all and sundry

Part 8 – Insulation can be daft

Part 9 – Protips and hacks

Part 10 – Protips and hacks (cont.) (feature ends)

Betcha that’ll keep you going for a whole week.

Originally, I planned on releasing one part a day, but I figured you dopes my esteemed readers just don’t have the brainpower would be so much more entertained by the posts hammering at you all at once.

Srsly, if I didn’t release all 10 ASAP, I’ll probably never get round to it, what with the lack of AC, lack of money, the heavy drinking, the emotional distress from work, and all.

* * *

Invasion of the Off-post Commenters

Oh, yah, there’s always some imbecile who had to email in (instead of commenting directly in the post) asking me, “What made you want to write something this big about air conditioning?”

Which I’ve already explained in Part 1 — if these people actually paid any attention to anything at all.

Holy gamoly, the nerve these people have…

* * *

Invasion of the Zealots of Grammarfaggotry

Not to be outdone by the off-posters, the emo douchebag grammarfothermuckers also wrote in (by email, not directly in the post) (ostensibly) complaining about — never mind, I’ve summarised their key points:

  • the posts are not in English (!)
  • the posts ARE in English but why are there apostrophes and non-standard spelling?
  • the language doesn’t sound like academic English because there are contractions
  • the spellings are American (yeah, right)
  • the spellings are “too British” (yeah, right)
  • what is the meaning of the word “urlogiciznotsound”? (*sigh*)
  • “Your English had been poor because the passive voice was not being used.” (*facepalm*)
  • why so much on the aircon? (*headdesk*)

Srsly, I’m not making this up.

* * *

On the bright side

The only positive comments were spam, believe it or not:

“Youre soooo gifted in writing. God is truly working with you
in tremendous strategies. Youre doing a superb job! This was
an incredible weblog!”
(IP 50.7.7.164 = Chicago, IL , USA)

“wooow, take pleasure in your things on the point
Active upon everything besides « The Unexaggerated Listener’s”
(IP 178.168.31.223 = Chisinau, Moldova)

“I think that you’d probably do well in a consulting role where you are helping
companies who want to improve in the area of creating passionate users
(products and websites). Your knowledge of the field is shown well by your
blogging, 
and maybe getting out in front of people will give you more
of a reason to stay passionate about this subject area (if not the blog itself).”

(IP 46.21.144.51 = Netherlands)

I never thought I’d live to see the day when I would thank spammers.

© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2011.

AC myths 10: Protips and hacks (cont.)

Thursday 15 September 2011, 5.08pm HKT


<< Part 9 << || >> Back to Part 1 >>

(Continued from Part 9)

We end the series with general tips on keeping cool and saving energy.

* * *

Keeping cool tips

Home clothes

21. Wear home clothes that allow perspiration to evaporate easily, especially if you live in a high-heat, high-humidity country. Avoid cotton T-shirts (even thin ones) because they’re not that good at allowing evaporation. Wear shirts instead. A cheapo silk shirt from a stocklot outlet is highly recommended. (Details in Part 7.)

Loafers

22. In hot weather or hot locations, wear loafers at work. Lace-ups warm your feet up quite a bit, as do sports shoes, sneakers, plimsolls and anything with rubber soles.

No fizzy drinks

23. Fizzy mineral water (even uncooled) cools you down better and faster than just plain cooled water. (I’ve forgotten the chemophysical principles behind this, but it works for most people anyway.)

No beer

24. When it’s really hot, stop drinking beer. You have to digest beer (and orange juice, soft drinks, soups, etc), and digestion produces heat. That’s why in hot weather, you end up having to drink more beer than otherwise with water.

General energy-saving tips

Curtains

25. Close all curtains when you leave home for the day. Always curtain off any incoming direct sunlight. Even indirect sunlight streaming in will heat up the premises. Use common sense: leave some windows uncurtained off to allow heat outflow. (Details in Part 8.)

Mirrorise

26. Mirrorise your windows with those one-way mirror films. Highly recommended if you live in any hot, sunny country.

Lights off

27. Turn off lights as you leave a room, especially in summer. Lights add a lot of heat to the room. Switch to using energy-saving lightbulbs, which produce less heat.

Venting

28. Vent the clothesdryer to outdoors, otherwise it pours heat and moisture into the house air. Use the automatic cycle if your dryer has this. Clean the dryer’s lint filter screen frequently (once a week or once a fortnight). Check the exterior vent opening once a month. Overdrying clothes wastes energy and wears out your clothes.

Clothesline

Drying rack

29. Use a clothesline. (Preferably indoors, given the high pollution levels in Hong Kong.) Not everything has to be dried by a clothesdryer, although drying jeans takes up the most energy. If and when your laundry load is high, take it to a laundry service because the costs will be far lower than doing it yourself.

Ceiling insulation

30. Bulk up your ceiling insulation. Not really relevant in a concrete, subtropical jungle like Hong Kong or Singapore, but important for some places. For instance, the highest recommended insulation level in Australia is R38, which is about 15 inches (38cm) deep of newer kinds of blown white fibreglass insulation. A good protective layer of ceiling insulation prevents heat from moving inwards in summer and holds heat in winter.

Fridge and freezer

31. Replace your refrigerator or freezer if it’s 10 years old or more. Normally these are low-efficiency units and burn a lot of energy. And put your fridge in the kitchen, not in the middle of the living room (as many people in Hong Kong often do) — it just heats up the living space.

Unplug

32. Unplug all unused electrical appliances (e.g. phone charger, fans, etc). They still generate heat while plugged in.

Dehumidifier

33. If your location only goes up to 28°C (82°F) or more for only a few days a year, consider getting a standalone dehumidifier. It is a better bet than using the AC for moisture control. (Details in Part 7.)

Whitewashing

Dakin Building, a.k.a. Luke Skywalker Building, in California

34. Whitewash the exterior of your premises. Consider using reflective exterior paint to better reflect heat and light off your premises. Never paint your exterior in dark pink, brown, green or black — those colours absorb heat and infrared radiation like hell. Think of the Luke Skywaker vs. Darth Vader buildings.

Bedware

35. You’re setting your AC too cold if you have to use a duvet in bed. In warm locales and with the AC on, you should only need a cotton throw (a kind of blanket).

* * *

Use your AC properly and it will give you years of trouble-free service.

(Unless you bought a lemon like I did.)

<< Part 9 << || >> Back to Part 1 >>

* * *

© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2011.

Images: Bottled water by Eli Top Food Corporation via Alibaba ♦ Drying rack via Alibaba ♦ Dakin Building via Wikipedia.

AC myths 9: Protips and hacks

Thursday 15 September 2011, 4.50pm HKT


<< Part 8 << || >> Part 10 >>

(Continued from Part 8)

Almost at the end of the series. We roll with some low-cost and no-cost ways of running your AC properly for summertime.

* * *

First and foremost

Habits

1. Develop energy-saving habits. Savings come from little behaviour changes and habits. Strip down if you feel a bit warm, and put something on if a bit chilly. Stop running around the home in shirtsleeves in the middle of winter. Stop wearing dark suits and tie in the middle of summer unless at work.

Expensiveness

2. Realise that using an AC is a relatively expensive undertaking, and if you’re that worried about cost, maybe you shouldn’t have AC installed at all.

Costings

3. For all practical purposes, the modern AC is designed to run at its rated power consumption level, regardless of the thermostat setting. It also produces the same amount of pollution at whatever the temperature setting. (Details in Part 5.)

AC-related tips

Relative temperature

4. Rule of thumb is set the AC at 10 degrees below the outdoor temperature (using the Celsius scale). For instance, if outdoors is 30°C (86°F), set the AC to 20°C (68°F) indoors. Professionals in the HVAC (heating, ventilation and AC) business use this rule of thumb, and it’s no mistake why they use it. (Details in Part 2.)

Thermostat habits

5. Handle the AC thermostat properly. Cool to 20°C to 23° (68°F to 73°F) and switch off when you feel chilly (instead of messing with the AC thermostat). At 20°C to 23°C, the extra cost is only marginal, but your AC will work more efficiently than at higher thermostat settings. (This tip contradicts the convention advice often given elsewhere: details in Part 2).

Fans

6. Don’t run fans while the AC is on. This is not a hard-and-fast rule — sometimes you have to make an exception. Fans disrupt the AC airflow, causing the AC to work harder, and therefore shortening its lifespan. A running fan motor also generates heat, therefore counteracting the work of the AC. Try to cut down on the number of electrical appliances running while the AC is on. (Details in Part 3.)

‘Auto fan’

7. Always use the ‘Auto fan’ thermostat setting, never just ‘On.’ On Auto, humidity is kept lower, so AC costs are much lower and comfort is higher.

Registers

8. Keep open the AC air-supply registers at all times (relevant for some AC models). It doesn’t save money, but closing off the registers may lead to costly problems.

Steady as she goes

9. Don’t try to speed-cool at max-low thermostat settings when you return home. Instead, choose a normal evening setting (20°C to 23°C, or 68°F to 73°F). The AC cools just as fast at 20°C as it does at any lower temperature.

Sunlight

No canopy? Wait till you see the bills

10. Block sunlight streaming into the premises when the AC is on.  Shut curtains and blinds in the direction of incoming sunlight. Close windows. Shut room doors to bigger rooms. Seal airleaks around doors (use caulking and weatherstripping). Check for airduct leaks or disconnected ducts around the house. Duct leaks can double your cooling cost. Rig up a canopy around the AC unit itself so sunlight won’t shine on it.

Bath time

11. Shut the AC off when you take baths and have the bathroom ventilation fan switched on. What goes out, something must come in. Open a window to let air flow in to balance the air outflow — it’s not the job of the AC to do that.

Filters

12. Change or wash the AC air filter screen once a month. It feels like a hassle, but it really isn’t. If you leave things untouched, the filter cakes up even more badly — then it becomes a real hassle. Clogged air filters restrict airflow, ups running costs, and often lead to expensive-to-fix compressor damage. Cleaning the filter screen is highly important in a polluted, concrete jungle or dusty place (like Hong Kong, the Middle East or southern USA) — you may have to clean the air filter once a week.

Microwave ovens

13. Use a microwave instead of the range (gas) oven when the AC is on. A microwave doesn’t heat up the kitchen. Shut the kitchen door when you’re cooking. A microwave pollutes less than a gas oven.

Water mist

14. If the AC is starting to go on the fritz, spray a fine mist of water at the rear end of the AC unit to keep it on the cool. This is a only stopgap measure.

Not in use

15. Cover the roomside and exterior ends of the AC unit when not in regular use (as in winter) to protect it from sunshine, rain and general debris landing on it or clogging it up.

Factory presets

What’s correct humidity?

16. If you have a remote for the AC unit, removing and reinstalling the batteries should give you back the factory preset temperatures in each mode the product was manufactured for. For instance, the Mitsubishi preset is 21°C (71°F).

Measuring temperature

17. The correct way to measure AC air output temperature is to use a thermometer 1 metre (3 feet 3 inches) from the cold-air outlet. Don’t stick it right into the blowhole, as some Laurel and Hardy repairmen are apt to do. (Story in Part 2.)

Humidity

18. Set the indoor humidity level at 30% to 60% if your AC unit has humidity control settings. This is only a conventional wisdom, as there is no hard evidence to back up this recommendation. (Details in Part 7.)

‘Middle’

19. Set the AC to blow cool air towards the middle of the roomspace. That allows for a more even distribution of cool air.

Hands in pockets

20. Stop messing around with the AC thermostat. You’ll make it break down quicker. Shut it off or put something on if you’re feeling chilly. Strip down if it’s a bit warm.

* * *

NEXT IN PART 10

General tips for keeping cool and saving energy.

<< Part 8 << || >> Part 10 >>

* * *

© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2011.

Images: AC unit from author’s collection ♦ Thermostat setting by Tom Grundy via 123RF ♦ AC in the sunlight from author’s collection ♦ Sweaty Asian girls via c4c.

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