EFFICIENT THERMAL COMFORT REQUIRES A COMBINATION OF SOLUTIONS

EFFICIENT THERMAL COMFORT REQUIRES A COMBINATION OF SOLUTIONS

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People started attaining thermal comfort at a faster rate with the advent of space cooling systems, while its usage limits tend to incur costs due to high electricity usage and environmental impacts like CO2 emissions, heating effect in urban outdoor environment. Know more!

There are various active and passive strategies at both individual and societal level to achieve thermal comfort. Choosing a combination of these strategies wisely could conserve energy and minimize the environmental impact associated with it for providing the optimal thermal comfort.  

Active strategies include the usage of various space cooling systems like air conditioners, ceiling fans, air coolers which are mostly used domestically by individuals at work spaces and homes. Their societal implementations could be found as well in leisure, entertainment and commercial spaces like shopping malls, cinema theatres. Etc. 

Individual passive strategies 

Climate conscious attitude and behaviour 

A more sustainable urban development that uses less space cooling systems and consumes less energy necessitates not only technical solutions or expert knowledge but also civil society participation. Urban citizens have to adopt an adaptive lifestyle. 

Exercise to be fit

People tend to lose thermal comfort in summers even at minimal higher temperatures when they are overweight. People tend to have effects on thermal adaptability as they become overweight.[1] 

The logical understanding of physiology shares the idea that, fitter people exert less for certain activity in hotter conditions thereby generating less heat. This lower raise in temperature makes it easy for the body to maintain the core temperature. Being unfit makes the muscles to work harder to accomplish the same activity, which generates extra heat. It takes longer for the extra heat to be released so fat people tend to feel hotter. Additionally, the excess fat layer may act as an insulating layer hindering the heat dissipation.

In colder conditions, for over weighted people their body fat insulates the core of their body allowing the skin to get cold making them feel colder. Relatively for fitter people their muscle tissue generates heat, offering protection from cold.[2] 

Eat right climate friendly foods

People have to choose foods that would help them to adapt to the climates and seasons. Example: In summer, one has to prefer eating foods with high water content like curd, tender coconut, water melon, mosambi. etc containing higher amounts of probiotic bacteria, electrolytes and minerals that aids digestion faster and thereby reduces the heat generation due to digestion, to keep you hydrated. Similarly in winter people can eat whole grains like ragi and millets to keep themselves warm.[3] 

Wear climate friendly clothing

People earlier used to dress according to the weather for keeping themselves thermally comfortable, since they had no option to maintain thermal comfort before the invention of space cooling appliances. Now people wish to follow fashion and trends in clothing, don’t wear dresses specific to climate and seasons. Moreover, professional requirements force people to wear the same type of clothing irrelevant of their ability to adapt to the temperatures, which seems to have greater impact than the dressing trends. Therefore, dressing appropriately can help people to adapt themselves to climatic conditions.  

Climate conscious schedule

People can plan to go outdoors according to the climates, scheduling outdoor activity at early mornings or late evenings during summer can keep you away from being exposed to direct heat radiation from the sun.  Similarly, during winters it is advisable to schedule your outdoor work when there is sunlight, preferably in the mid of noon that can keep yourself away from cold related illnesses. 

Societal passive strategies 

Climate conscious and sustainable building design 

Maximize ventilation and minimize solar heat gains by planning for proper building orientation, adequate window design, use of shading devices, and reflective surface materials. Constructors can consider the architecture design code suggestions given by governmental organizations like Indian Green Building Council while building which can help to live in sustainable constructions. 

Urban parks & gardens  

In hot, humid climates, bounteous vegetation in the form of large urban parks and gardens can dramatically reduce urban temperatures contributing to the reduction of energy usage in buildings for cooling. Government and other entities who construct elements for sustainable cities with abundant vegetation can reduce people being reliant only on space cooling systems while staying indoor and can also reduce the heating effect in the outdoor environment. 

Increasing population makes people to cram into smaller building spaces therefore the provision for following these societal passive strategies could be more challenging. While it could be always beneficial in energy and environment conservation by adopting these passive strategies whenever feasible and combining them with active strategies like use of ceiling fans, air conditioners to attain sustainable and healthy thermal comfort. 

References: 

[1] Obesity and thermoregulation

[2] Do Fat People Stay Warmer in Cold Weather Than Thin People?

[3] How to Reduce Body Heat Quickly and Get Relief

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