Save energy: Create your own natural cooling system | WWF

Save energy: Create your own natural cooling system

Nature has given us excellent means of cooling our surroundings naturally. Trees give shade and keep us cool. Ever wondered why the open areas such as playing fields, football grounds and other open areas seem hotter during the day?
In contrast the breeze that flows from trees feels so cool. These are our natural air conditioners. Much of the cost of cooling at home can be saved by passive cooling techniques that are inexpensive and can be set up easily. We can do this with good insulation, using tress for shade, and drawing curtains to keep off the heat.

Some advantages of natural cooling
Shading is the simplest, most effective way to cool our home and reduce energy consumption. According to a study, up to 40% of the costs of cooling can be saved by shading techniques such as landscaping, and working the drapes and blinds.

There is minimal maintenance cost, as all we need to do is simply water and look after our shade trees and vines. No renewal required if we let the trees, shrubs and vines grow naturally.

Make a small model to see how effective natural cooling is
You will need:
  1. A 100-watt incandescent bulb (if you are doing this indoors)
  2. Two Paper or wood models of the building
  3. Potted plants or bonsai plants
  4. Two thermometers
  5. A notebook and pencil
Study the environment
Look over a wider area in your neighbourhood. Choose what you want to make a model of: your school building or your neighbourhood around your house. Are the streets lined with trees? What kind of trees are they? Do they give enough shade?

How many trees are there? Check the direction the building faces. Compare the temperatures in different rooms. Which rooms are the coolest and which are the warmest? Will planting trees near the warmer rooms help? What other factors determine the temperature in the rooms? How is the ventilation system?

Place both the models in natural sunlight or at an equal distance from the bulb. After some time check the temperature inside the models.

Now put the plants around one model so that the plants give shade to the building. Do not put plants around the other model.

After some time check the temperature in both the models. You will notice a marked change in the model that has plants around it. Check the temperature both inside and outside the model and do the same for the model that does not have plants around it. Compare the temperatures.

You could try placing taller plants or change the direction in which the model faces to see how the temperature is cooled down. Try to find what kind of combination of plants and shade will provide a comfortable temperature.