9 methods to cut back electrical energy prices

An will keep your indoors cool and heavenly, but it does mean higher electricity costs and an increase in carbon emissions. If your heart skips a beat (like mine does) before opening the monthly bill, or if you just want to reduce energy usage, these tips below will not only help reduce electricity consumption but will also introduce you to a more inspired way of living. Read on.
1. Be smart about
Cross-ventilation or wind ventilation can keep a space cool by allowing free flow of air through doors and windows. Leaving windows open helps lower indoor temperatures and minimises the need for switching on the air conditioner. Do ensure there is another opening (preferably at the opposite end) to let the air pass through.

Tip: Add a bit of traditional style to your modern home by installing jaalis in windows. This tried and tested Indian vernacular element is a timeless favourite for its ability to block out the sun but let in the breeze.

2. Draw the shades during the day

Photo: Photo by Khosla Associates

Pull down the blinds and draw the curtains to keep out the harsh rays of the sun and to prevent cool air from escaping through open windows. In the image, the floor-to-ceiling windows are covered with nude-coloured blinds. The designers have gone for for sectional blinds instead of full-length ones, which can be adjusted as per light requirements.

Tip: Scout your local market for screens made from khus khus, which is a type of reed or grass that is neatly woven into a mat or blind and hung in the doorways and windows. This is an age-old method to keep your home cool and pleasant inside. The aromatic grass works as a natural cooler when sprinkled with water.

3. Switch on the ceiling fan or an air cooler

Photo: 1800Lighting

Both ceiling fans and air-coolers are energy-saving alternatives to ACs. Air coolers, also referred to as evaporative coolers, add moisture to the air, thus reducing indoor temperatures. However, they are more suitable for drier and arid climates common to the western and northern parts of India.

Tip: Traditional coolers can be a bit noisy so do check for more contemporary varieties that are quieter.

4. Set up a water body for passive cooling


Photo: Kumar Moorthy & Associates

As water evaporates and rises, it absorbs heat from the nearby air. So why not set up a small water body in your inner courtyard?

Strategically located water bodies create convectional breezes, which in turn make the home cooler. Take a cue from the space by Kumar Moorthy Associates. The designers have created a mini Zen garden with a mosaic-based water structure for passive cooling. If making architectural changes is not possible, then you can buy a water fountain for this space or the balcony or even go for decorative earthen pots filled with water to create a similar effect.

Tip: Any space where water collects for a long period of time requires regular cleaning and maintenance. Stagnant water may draw mosquitoes, so do ensure necessary maintenance.

5. Green up the indoors and the outdoors
Plants and trees keep the air around them cool, thus lowering temperatures. You can grow deciduous trees like peepul (Ficus religiosa) or banyan (Ficus benghalensis) along the boundaries of your home, especially if you live on the ground floor. These come into leaf in spring and shed their leaves in autumn, thus providing ample shade in summer and allowing maximum sunshine in winter.

You can also grow climbing vines, such as curtain creepers (Vernonia elaeagnifolia) in windows or balconies. In this image, the homeowners have used eco-friendly ways to cool their home by growing a green, living wall along the passageway.

6. Go for muted furnishings

Photo: Iqrup + Ritz (India)

When the mercury rises, use soothing shades and fabrics inside the house. White and other lighter shades reflect all wavelengths of light and therefore absorb the least amount of heat. Black and darker colours, on the contrary, absorb the most, and thereafter, radiate it.

Everything about this living room by Iqrup + Ritz spells cool, be it the pastel hues of the upholstery or the refreshing green plants.

7. Bare the floors

Photo: a-RT/art.architecture.design

Accessories like carpets and rugs can the raise indoor temperature by absorbing and retaining heat. On the other hand, stones like marble, granite and other natural varieties have a lot of mass and don’t tend to warm up very easily, making them an ideal choice for the tropical Indian climate. So bare the floors to make the most of all this coolness. The subtly shaded natural stone in this room won’t absorb too much heat and will help keep the indoor temperature on the lower side.

Tip: If you really have to use a carpet, go for chatais (reed or jute mats), which don’t absorb as much heat as thicker carpets do. They are also easy to roll up and store.

8. Switch to LEDs
Incandescent bulbs and tubes tend to radiate a lot of heat, which adds to the sweltering feeling during the high-heat months – especially when you are seated close to them. Smaller or closed spaces like this study area would feel a lot hotter because of the proximity to incandescent lights. LEDs, on the other hand, don’t warm up fast or emit too much heat. As they use less electricity, they have lower carbon emissions and don’t add as much to global warming.

9. Don’t forget ‘you’

Photo: Beth Dana Design

Along with keeping your indoors cool, it is also important to keep your body temperature down, too. Switch to foods and drinks that will keep your body refreshed and cool during the unforgiving summers. Think of fresh fruits and vegetables and refreshing beverages like nimbu paani (lemonade), lassi (buttermilk) or similar healthy drinks to stay hydrated through the day.

By Rashmi Haralalka

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