When I lived away from home, I didn’t always have the material comforts of a refrigerator, air conditioner or a 24-hour water supply. I had to come up with hacks to survive the inferno that is an Indian summer. These hacks also happened to be more environment-friendly than any material comfort could ever be.
Today, I pass 3 of these environment-friendly summer hacks to you.
Hack #1: Avoid showers
I don’t mean avoid bathing; I mean avoid using a shower to bathe.
Many of us need/like hot water while showering. So, we stand outside the shower, feel the water and enter only when the hot water begins to flow.
In the 15-20 seconds that you wait for your hot water to reach you, almost 12 liters* of water goes to waste. Considering that we need between 1-3 liters of water to drink in a day, one shower like this every morning wastes more than the amount of water your family of 4 should be drinking the entire day!
Instead, embrace the cold water! (it’s just 15 seconds!)
Even better, use a bucket to bathe. The cold water gets collected and mixed with the hot water that follows, giving you the perfect temperature to bathe in.
Hack #2: Insulate your rooms
The cooling from ACs is lost through the gaps below door, in between windows and even through the glass of windows. This makes you want to run the AC for longer–even throughout the day. Apart from increasing your carbon footprint (most of our electricity still comes from fossil fuels after all), that has two problems.
First, ACs release hot air into the surrounding atmosphere and contributes to the Heat Island Effect. Among other thing, this increase in ambient temperature is very harmful—potentially fatal—to many plants, animals and birds around the house.
Second, you are not going to be…happy with your electricity bills.
So, insulate your room.
Cover the glass of the windows with chart papers, use thick curtains and place thick doormats at the foot of the door. A properly insulated room will keep the heat OUT and the cooling effect IN. You can now use the AC for short bursts and enjoy the cooling for much longer.
BONUS HACK: If you haven’t serviced your ACs in the recent past, the coolant leaks out of the system. This releases potent greenhouse gases called hydroflurocarbons (HFCs) that also seem to impact ozone depletion. So make sure you take your maintenance seriously!
Hack #3: Buy only what you need
Picture those damn bananas that are fresh when you buy them, but turn into a soggy, black mess by the time you get around to eating them the next day. You are left with no option but to throw them away.
In the heat, a lot of the fruits and vegetables get spoiled quickly. This is especially true for fruits, which we usually store outside the refrigerator.
Instead, buy only what you need. If your family of 4 has one banana each, don’t buy more than 4 every day. The same goes for the other fruits that are going to flood the markets soon–mangoes, pomegranates, watermelons. Fresh fruit also taste so much better!
(I wouldn’t suggest storing them in the fridge, because that takes up valuable space that you could use to keep water bottles!)
Do you have hacks that you use to stay environment-friendly in the summers?
*Depends on the size of the shower head, the size of the pipes and the length of the pipe from the water heater to the shower head.