What’s it been for you? The Backyard (2/5)

Monday 5 March 2012, 6.00am HKT


FROM PART 1

However 2011 has been for you, it has been an all-too-memorable one for me. Here’s what has happened in my miserable life last year while trapped in this toilet living in Hong Kong.

* * *

THE BACKYARD

Love Life

In a word: Timewasting.

Last year, the love of my life got hitched with some other guy.

They’ve been hitched a year already.

I’ve met him too. He’s a good (and goodly) fellow, I have to say in all honesty.

The upsetting part of it all was that the love of my life had hijacked two scarves — the only relics of my mother’s existence on Earth — and not likely to give them back.

Mum gave her the scarves as gifts of obligation, if you know what THAT means.

I don’t know why she (or anyone else) would want to keep those scarves — it’s not like they’ll bring luck or anything like that.

But I am a superior man, by general upbringing and inclination, so I don’t dwell on that (present blogpost excepted).

__________

Work life

In a word: Profitless.

Trivia: March and November have always been ‘my months’ — projects that start in those two months have a strong tendency to succeed.

No new projects last year. I kid you not but those work-in-progress projects that weren’t started in March or November have gotten stuck.

Job No. B08045 is one of those stuck projects. That’s the Ph.D. thesis that I was involved in editing for a sociologist from 2008 to 2009. That job ended up in dispute and much acrimony, largely because of the pointless and insane (and oftentimes insanely pointless) antics of that sociologist.

How so? Even though B08045 was pro bono (believe it or not, a term hitherto unknown to that sociologist), the time cost clocked in at a staggering HK$750,000 — more than the printing price of a medium-sized IPO (initial public offering, or public flotation of stock). That’s US$96,500 or £62,000!

It truly baffles the mind what kind of person — any kind, academic or otherwise — who could generate THAT amount of editorial workload. I’ve lost a considerably amount of time, effort and actual money on B08045 (to say nothing of the goodwill with my co-workers).

That level of time cost just points to the probability that the sociologist hadn’t actually finished the draft even past the halfway point. That sociologist was lucky not getting thumped with three-quarters of a million dollars’ worth of billing. I was unlucky and had lost a very considerable sum of money on that pro bono job.

The plan had been to start litigation this year, but because of the general downturn in business, there’s not a whole lot of cash to spread for that kind of stuff right now. Maybe next year.

___

Protips on how to work with an editor
Read the staggering sidebar here.

___

Meanwhile, business conditions started to sour by second half of last year. Pretty soon, I figured I’ll be a 100% non-profit organisation. Don’t mean to be, but there you go.

__________

Home life

In a word: Clusterf*ck.

The two home ACs (air conditioners) finally died in September last year after labouring their lives away quiet as a churchmouse in the soupy summer heat. Last summer turned out to be hotter and longer-lasting than usual.

I was eating less (because of the inflated food prices) and sleeping less (lack of AC).

And earning less (tougher business conditions).

___

The main faucet nearly broke, held together but for a single pin, but stitched up in time that saved nine and so averting major disaster.

___

The lawsuit carried on by my building’s I.O. finally got heard in the High Court around the second quarter last year.

(‘I.O.’ is ‘incorporated owners’ — Hong Kong lingo for ‘owners and residents committee.’)

The I.O. promptly flubbed both the main lawsuit and subsequent appeals by presenting witnesses whom one judge practically branded in written judgment as liars. But it wasn’t really the I.O.’s fault — no one’s lived long enough in my building to know the ins and outs of the facts of the case, so the I.O. had to settle for second best. And second best turned out to be unhelpful.

Since then, courts have slapped the I.O. with a contempt of court order for failing to remove or reconfigure four waste-water pipelines as required by building regulations. Again, it’s not the I.O.’s intention to go against the law. The pipelines in fact reside in another owner’s property and that owner has always refused giving access to the I.O. to carry out pipeworks. How the hell is the I.O. able to fulfil official orders when it’s being barred from access? Die if you do, die if you don’t.

__________

Health and stealth

In a word: Decrepit.

July 2011 marked my one full year of no use of crutches.

I was on crutches for 37 months that ended on 13 July 2010. Then I decided I had enough of the bleeding nonsense and told the hospital to piss off sign papers to get me off the crutches.

I started on the crutches on 23 June 2007 after being hit by pedestrians (go figure).

The doctors were chickenshit scared of any potential malpractice suit, won’t sign papers, and preferred instead to wait it out to see who blinked first about coming off the crutches.

Turned out I blinked first, so the doctors were now off the hook. I came out of crutches by sheer willpower.

Trivia: About six months before that incident, I got rammed in the face by (again) a pedestrian carrying a gigantic sportsbag bolting across a pedestrian crossing. I ended up in a neck brace for several weeks. Go figure.

(That’s me in the photo in 2009, by the way.)

___

Disgusting rashes and blisters broke out all over my body in October after suffering through months of heat and humidity, especially after the ACs had died.

Never had anything remotely resembling a skin condition, and now this. When the blobs started coming on, I thought they might’ve been some kind of infestation.

Living without air conditioning in a subtropical place like Hong Kong means your living quarters and your body very quickly become infested with mites, ticks, fleas, roaches and sundry bugs and vermin.

The environmenterrorists rather prefer not to mention that small fact of life.

At the end of the day, less AC means a faster death for Mother Earth rather than the other way round. I’ve explained all this in my AC Myths article: more use of water for baths and laundry, more use of detergents, more use of pesticides, more use of lights to scare the bugs away at night.

This environmentalism isn’t all what it seems on the surface, I tell you.

No, the rashes weren’t infestation. Actually they’re the effects of prolonged exposure to heat and humidity — it could end up becoming a semi-permanent skin condition. I kept myself in a happy state of mind, since, with good reason, a happy person gets well quicker.

Environmentalfags, pay attention.

___

Much more horrifyingly, my past-shoulder-length hair started dropping out in worryingly big chunks, especially after taking showers. Prolonged high heat and humidity can do this to you — especially if the onset is sudden, as in after an AC breakdown.

___

I grew a moustache — well, I managed only a semi-goatee, actually — partly because of some stupid moustache-growing competition at the pub, but mainly to stave off the possibility of rashes on the face.

Anyhow, the rashes have (sort of) subsided by December. I rue the day they should come back when warm weather sets in.

Now, I’ve been told my whiskers are homoerotic-looking and make me look like a Chinese fortuneteller or a ghey-fag scooter rider on expired steriods. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at that.

(Photo: The one with the whiskers is the more brain-damaged.)

__________

Public life and connections

In a word: Disembodied.

Nothing. The only highlights of 2011 were going out to various gigs around town and having a good ole’ chat with pub goers. And, of course, going to the memorably named Clockenflap festival.

___

A whole year had now passed and I’ve heard nothing from my friend Q whose life in northwest England started unravelling in a serious way in late 2010.

___

I managed to write quite a lot for this blog and I’m chuffed to the bollocks to have good, kindly people like YOU reading it and even subscribing it. Thanks.

* * *

I’m no smurf, but I feel blue enough

* * *

UP NEXT IN PART 3: THE ENGINE ROOM

© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2012.

Images: Laser-cut scarf via Little Factory | Face behind books engraving via Research Consultation Inc. | All other photos by me.

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.

AC myths 8: Insulation can be daft

Thursday 15 September 2011, 4.15pm HKT


<< Part 7 << || >> Part 9 >>

(Continued from Part 7)

In this penultimate part of the series, the received wisdom about insulation might not be so wise for AC use.

* * *

Bullshit #11
Insulate your premises when you install an AC.

This is only a half-myth, because it is a legitimate factor to consider in some regions. In places like Hong Kong, though, it’s pretty stupid to see this recommendation for residential premises.

Hong Kong is a concrete jungle. Wait, not in real terms. Urban land use here only figures 15% of the total land availability. But the concrete parts of the place are seriously concrete. Srsly.

‘Visual impact’?

Many cities around the world make some abject effort to plant trees and other shrubbery on the sidewalks and generally around town.

Hong Kong makes no such effort. Here, plants are considered a ‘visual impact’ on property prices (I kid you not!) or bad feng shui or “noise-causing” (Shome mishtake here—Editor).

But if and when our municipal authorities do plant, they’re doin’ it wrong.

Many times you will see government contractors plant new trees along sidewalks — a good thing — but then they go all barmy and proceed to concrete over the base, so that the tree suffocates to death nearly always within 2 or 3 years of planting. And then the government arborialists wonder why.

(I can’t believe I’ve actually lived the day to have to write that.)

But Hong Kong IS a concrete jungle, practically speaking. (Singapore, too, although they won’t admit it.) Concrete jungles retain a lot of heat.

Concrete jungles retain a lot of heat: livable only with AC

When you’ve got something like cars, the underground train system, four million phonelines and 13 million mobile phones (for a population of 7½ million), 6,000 high-rises of 20-plus storeys, plus cable TV, Internet lines, etc, etc — that’s a lot of heat sources and a lot of heat retention. Living and working inside a concrete structure all the time, insulation is irrelevant here.

But insulation is highly relevant for some places — Australia, Canada, the UK and the USA being prominent examples.

In Australia, if there’s no roof insulation, the AC is working against the heat load on the roof, and that can be considerable. Bedrooms there tend to be downstairs and well-insulated from the floors above, and there is some insulation in the exterior walls.

For office buildings, Hong Kong forgoes much of the conventional Anglo-American-centric insulation wisdom and go straight into installing mirrored exterior glass panes to reflect away light and heat. We use specially formulated, man-made marble slabs for building exteriors and interiors. Porcelain tilework is nearly everywhere inside. We don’t have earthquakes, tornadoes or even tsunamis like some places do, so we can afford to use those building thingies.

We use 3M Panaflex Awning and Sign Facing 945 GPS material (a kind of flexible plastic tarpaulin) for hoardings and backlit signages — much more versatile than the woodboards, Sheetrock gypsum panels or Perspex sheeting often used in the West.

Shameless self-plug: The Naked Listener has the distinction of introducing Panaflex to Hong Kong in the 1980s. Got no money out of it, though.

Worst colour combo for any building

For residential buildings, we’re starting to use more reflective paint on rooftops and exterior walls than previously to reduce heat transfer. This is a costlier version of what Hong Kong did in the 1950s: whitewashing the outer walls.

FACT: Any normal white or light-coloured exterior wall paint will reflect light and heat off of a building structure.

Short of installing mirrors on the outside — not a bad idea, actually.

Protip: Whitewash your building’s exterior once a year. Every little bit helps, and white has the best heat/light reflectability than any other colour.

Think about why power stations and nuclear reactors are always painted white. Think why space rockets and spacesuits are in white. Think why there are no black or dark-coloured palaces.

Protip: Whatever you do, don’t paint your exteriors in dark pink (a.k.a. terracotta, burnt ochre, cemetery rose), brown or green — they’re the pits for heat/light reflection, they absorb heat and infrared radiation second only to all black, and they just look plain shite.

Which is why office buildings around the world almost never use those colours (except bloody Hong Kong and China).

Protip: When you use the AC, curtain off any incoming direct sunlight, which heats up the place. Even better, get those one-way mirror films and use them on window panes for general heat/light reflection.

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

* * *

NEXT IN PART 9

Low-cost and no-cost energy-saving protips for the home and office.

<< Part 7 << || >> Part 9 >>

* * *

© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2011.

Images: Shrubbery and house via CurbedWire ♦ Hong Kong concrete jungle via TrekEarth ♦ Golden mirror window panes by Only2perCent via WallpaperWeb ♦ Green-white building in Hong Kong via Airconco ♦ Luke Skywalker Building via Wikipedia.

AC myths 7: Temperature and humidity for all and sundry

Thursday 15 September 2011, 3.05pm HKT


<< Part 6 << || >> Part 8 >>

(Continued from Part 6)

This is Part 7 of the series and we’ll look at the myth about correct temperature vs. correct humidity.

* * *

Bullshit # 10
Temperature and humidity apply to men and women alike.

Interesting, but wrong — on a level you’d probably not considered before (unless you’ve read Dad’s books on HVAC).

Wear a jumper if you’re cold

In the heated debate about air conditioning, the biggest problem is that women get cold quicker than men. Ladies are cold, gents get hot.

In the home, he (or she) who cries the loudest, wins. In an open office, we need to agree somehow.

I can’t answer for other people, but I find even fat ladies get cold quicker than skinny guys. Some bitches turn up the heat, but mostly they turn up your temper. Maybe it’s the crowd I run with. Your mileage may vary.

There’s almost no research on difference in temperature preferences between men and women.

What’s the correct humidity?

Humidity (or relative humidity) comes under the general heading of thermal comfort. It makes a big impact on our perceptions of temperature and thermal comfort.

The commonly recommended indoor humidity level is 30% to 60% — and that sounds about right.

But nothing’s correct, really. There are no hard statistics on optimal humidity.

If you live in a dryish city like Johannesburg (59% relative humidity generally), then a cold AC can dry out the air quite a bit more than people would have liked and people sometimes become ill because of it.

If you live in a region where temperatures are never likely to go higher than the mid- to high 20s Celsius (high 70s to low 80s Fahrenheit), the AC is an option, not an essential. Instead, you need a standalone dehumidifier, which does the job much more efficiently.

Protip: Just so you know, a standalone dehumidifier creates a lot of heat. Don’t use the AC together with a standalone dehumidifier, otherwise you’re busting your AC and bills.

But if you live in a high-heat, high-humidity region (such as Central America, the Middle East, and the equatorial, tropical and subtropical regions), you couldn’t get enough dehumidifiers and ‘dehum’ ACs to stop yourself from drowning in the wet air.

Okay, I gotcha, you don’t mind perspiration

Humidity in the sense of comfort is about how fast body perspiration evaporates and gives a cooling effect. Our perception of a dry or damp indoor environment comes from relative humidity (an objective fact) and how our body sensors detect humidity (a subjective fact, but a fact no less).

Evaporation requires energy for it to take place. Water evaporating from a body draws heat energy from that body. Which is why we feel cooler coming out of the swimming pool, and also why water in porous earthen pots is found to be cooler than water in non-porous metal vessels.

Relative humidity creates the perception in us of an dry or damp environment. High relative humidity (i.e. high moisture content in the surrounding air) prevents evaporation from taking place. Which is why you and everything else are sopping wet in the rainforest because the high relative humidity there (99% or 100%) just stops any evaporation from happening.

Protip: If you live in a nice, drowningly humid and hot place (as I do), wear home clothes that allow you to perspire. Forget T-shirts — they’re hot and bothering. Wear shirts, preferably a cheapo silk shirt from a stocklot outlet.

Or do what I do — a unisex-looking woman’s silk gown around the house. It’s for comfort, not kinkiness. C’mon, you’re at home! Who’s looking?

Sensors in our bodies are fairly efficient at sensing heat and cold, but crap at detecting relative humidity. Which is why there is so much more subjectivity (and arguments) about humidity preferences.

I’m over the moon when and wherever relative humidity is 50% or anything lower. Others think I’m insane because they think it’s like living in a dehydration chamber. I also like really cold environments, which makes friends think I should live inside a freeze-drying unit. It’s a shame that Hong Kong is so opposite of what I like.

* * *

NEXT IN PART 8

Insulation is okay for some places, but kinda daft for others.

<< Part 6 << || >> Part 8 >>

* * *

© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2011. All images via c4c.

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