Across the UAE, where the average daily temperature in the summer can soar to over 40-degrees celsius (104-degree Fahrenheit) for weeks at a time, it might seem the weather is to blame for the country’s huge per capita carbon footprint, as the perpetual heat makes air-conditioning a necessity for most people and workplace environments.
The many old buildings within the UAE with poor, or non-existent insulation, are the cause of much of the additional and unnecessary carbon usage as they are unable to provide effective thermal insulation from the inescapable and omnipresent heat.
Thanks to the laws of physics, good thermal insulation is required to prevent heat from passing from the exterior of the building, into the interior of the building, to the inside living or working spaces. In the absence of such barrier, a dramatically increased amount of air-conditioning is required to keep the building interior cool, which drives up monthly electric bills and the total national electricity usage.
Dr. Andreas Kiesewetter, owner of Europe’s largest privately owned paint and insulation manufacturer, commented recently on the UAE energy efficiency vs. insulation paradigm.
Dr. Andreas Kiesewetter; “The easiest and cheapest way to save energy is through buildings. With proper insulation, a building’s energy consumption and related expenditure can be cut in half.
It requires a larger amount of energy to cool a building than to heat it due to the fact that the efficiency of air conditioners is less than central heating systems, besides the nature of heat transfer inside living spaces from objects and appliance that emit heat.
There is no point in saving energy on one front to then use the savings in a wasteful manner on the other. It only makes sense to produce green energy if it is used sustainably. Good insulation allows us to use energy sustainably.” — Dr Andreas Kiesewetter, head engineer at Caparol Building Envelope Systems Division
Buildings which have received efficiency upgrades to their overall building envelope can score nearly as well as brand new buildings, on the energy efficiency front.
Some notable examples exist in the United States and Europe where the monthly cost of electricity for an office tower might have ranged over USD 1 million PER MONTH prior to insulation upgrades — falling to HALF that, after efficiency upgrades.
Short of completely renovating your home or office tower, here are some great ways to help you live and work more comfortably this summer and begin to lower your utility costs immediately, courtesy of the DC SEU.
Very surprisingly, Washington, D.C. with its huge seasonal temperature swings, wins awards almost every year for government, commercial, industrial and residential, energy efficiency. The Sustainable Energy Utility (DC SEU) was created to assist all levels of government, the business community, and residents to lower their overall energy consumption and to increase energy efficiency throughout the region. Their many awards and accomplishments are unprecedented.
Using an air conditioner isn’t the only answer to beating the heat during brutal summers. There are a lot of ways to keep your home cool besides resorting to energy intensive (and energy bill-raising) air conditioners. Check out these tips to help you to keep cool and save energy this summer.
- Take advantage of those rare times when it’s cooler outside and open your windows instead of using air conditioning. Use a window fan, blowing toward the outside, to pull cool air in through other windows and to push hot air out.
- When it’s warmer outside than inside, close your windows and then draw window coverings against direct sunlight.
- Delay heat-producing tasks, such as dishwashing, baking, or doing laundry, until the cooler evening or early morning hours.
- Caulk around window and door frames, use weather stripping on exterior doors, and have a professional seal any gaps where air can travel between the attic and your living space.
- Use your bath fan to remove heat and moisture generated by showers.
- If your kitchen range hood fan exhausts to the outdoors, use it to remove hot air while cooking.
- Use energy-efficient lighting in your home. CFL and LED light bulbs are cooler when they are on and cost less to operate because most of their energy produces light instead of heat. Incandescent light bulbs, on the other hand, lose 90% of their energy as heat.
- Now is a great time to make home improvements that can reduce both cooling and heating costs and make your home more comfortable all year. An energy performance contractor can find and fix the causes of high energy bills, uncomfortably hot or cold/drafty rooms, moisture and air quality problems, and more.
Sometimes there’s no escaping the summertime heat — without turning on your air conditioner. Here are some helpful tips for purchasing and maintaining your ENERGY STAR compliant room air conditioner:
When buying air conditioners, choose the smallest ENERGY STAR qualified unit appropriate for the size of the room you’re cooling.
Too big a model not only costs more to operate but also can make a room uncomfortably clammy as oversized equipment can’t remove humidity as effectively.
See the guide to help you select the right size air conditioner for a room in your house.
Here are some other factors to consider when choosing your room air conditioner:
- If the room is very sunny, increase the size by 10%. If it is very shady, decrease the size by 10%.
- If more than two people regularly occupy the room, add 600 BTUs per hour for each additional person to the size selected.
- If your room air conditioner is intended for use in a kitchen, increase size by 4,000 BTUs per hour.
- Keep outside air from leaking in by seeing that there are no gaps along the sides of your window air conditioner or between window sashes.
- Remember to clean air conditioner filters regularly and keep the front and back of air conditioners unobstructed.
DC Sustainable Energy Utility
80 M Street SE, Suite 310
Washington, DC 20003
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