Sunday, March 13, 2011

earth day approaching

it's that time of the year again. with earth day approaching, folks are again talking about switching off their lights for an hour, just to "conserver energy" blah blah blah...

i'm tired of this. i'm sick of this. the first time i've heard of earth day, i wonder "what's the point?". how does switching lights off for one hour bring about a message of conservation, of being environmentally conscientious etc? the argument always go along that "this is a start" etc. so i get the impression that something bigger will be in the works.

but my question is, for how long have we had this earth day thingie? and for how long are we still talking about switching building lights off? can we move on from this? are we building or losing the momentum?

as such, i'll try to blog about how each of us, through little lifestyle changes can have a bigger impact on planet earth rather than this earth day movement. with each of us doing these on a daily basis, we could see a much bigger impact cumulatively. yes, i'm talking about little lifestyle changes rather than one off events like "earth day".

if the aim is to save energy, for folks in tropical countries like malaysia, switch off your air-con.
i'm always amazed when friends are amazed by our electricity bill. for a build up area of 1600+ sq ft, our monthly electricity bill is around rm40. almost everyone i know uses more than this (in the hundreds!), even for smaller build up areas. well, certainly it's not like we are spartans. we still have our refrigerator, tv etc. why heck, add to my weekly use of our oven, almost daily use of soldering iron etc. the biggest factor is... we very rarely switch on our air con.

so if everyone (why heck, even just 10%) does not switch on their air con when they sleep, imagine how much power we could save?!

but you'll ask me, how so in hot humid tropical malaysia? easy. the answer is pretty much right in front of you. ask your parents or grand parents, how did they live when in the past air conditioning wasn't popular?

the problem as i see it is that these days, houses are built with nary a thought for air ventilation. it's already bad that we use thermally inefficient bricks and cements for building our houses (which are suitable for temperate regions), we worsen the situation by omitting ventilation holes common at the upper walls of buildings. also nowadays developers like to use a lot of glass in their buildings. urgh!!!! and the only advice they could give you is to install more air conditioning units!

to cool down your house, think of keeping hot air out and allowing cool air in.

if possible, get a corner or end lot rather than intermediate unit. you have more windows so open them in the mornings/evenings when the air is cooler and close them during the afternoon when the air is warm.
if possible, install windows awnings to shield direct sunlight from entering your home.
if possible, renovate your house to have a balcony or verandah, effectively creating an "air pocket" for thermal insulation.

certainly doable :
install tinted windows or just a tinted film on your windows to cut down direct sunlight.
install those "turbine thingie" at the roof top to improve air ventilation of your house and also mainly to channel out hot air from your attic.
install a fan near the window to pull in the cool night air.
if you live in a double storey house, install an exhaust fan at the highest point (or nearby) of your house to channel out hot air trapped in your house.

if you really need to use an air-con, switch it on for 2-3 hours before sleeping, then switch if off and open the windows wide to allow the cool night air to flow in.

some very simple tips no? try them and trust me, not only are you conserving energy, you'll be saving lots of $$$ in the long run.

if you have more tips, please share here in the comments section.


  1. True. Nic and I rarely use our airconds too. You are spot on about conserving energy and letting air cool the house. Here are my tips:
    1. Switch off all lights not in use.
    2. Recycle your water. Water used to soak vege is used to water the garden outside. Don't just pour the water down the sink. So wasteful!
    3. Compost, compost, compost if you have the space to set up a compost pot system.
    4. Buy products which last. Not cheap Tesco stuff please.
    5. Do not open the fridge and stare at your food before you decide what to take out of it. A total waste of cold air.
    6. Eat at home. It's healthier! No MSG.
    7. Do batch processing for chores like ironing, vacuuming to save on energy costs. If you iron, iron a whole basket of clothes near an open window so you won't feel all sweaty and need to (yikes) switch on the aircond!

  2. thx for your comments! i'll incorporate your suggestions into my other blog posts on this series.