The one advantage that I feel winters have over summers is that you can keep on adding more clothes to protect yourself from cold. Sadly, the same can’t be said for summers, as layering down can not only result in serious sunburns but can also invite a ‘cool spot’ in the gaol.
Summers in India have not always been this drastic as observed in recent years. The culprit being lesser trees, fewer water bodies and of course, climate change—the grave crisis of our century.
At present, the concern is not just limited to beating the heat, which can be easily done with air conditioners—albeit at the cost of the environment; but for a larger part of the country, the economics doesn’t add up.
So, how can we beat the heat, without messing up ecology further?
The answer is Jugaad, one word that I’m sure most Indians love. Honestly, there is no debate that Indians are the Kings of Jugaad.
And hence we present you five desi hacks to beat the heat including a Do-It-Yourself air conditioner! Using materials ranging from discarded plastic bottles, old sarees, arecanut sheaths as well as the Sun, trust us, these options won’t burn a hole in your pockets.
Check them out:
1. How to keep your head cool
Saddened by the plight of local traffic cops in peak summer heat, a group of children came up with an eco-friendly solution: a protective layer for caps made up of the arecanut leaf!
Found abundantly in Kerala, arecanut palm leaf sheaths, upon getting moist, are known to protect your head from the heat, and the kids tapped right into it!
Part of Thalir Mukkatty, a local environment group, these kids used dried arecanut leaf sheaths and cut them out in the shape of police caps. They then soaked them in water before placing them inside the cap. You can read more here.
The beauty of this unassuming material that seldom finds any use is that once wet, the sheaths can be fashioned in any shape. Let your creativity run wild!
2. A really ‘cool’ roof
Utilising the insulation qualities of aluminium, Dr A Jagadeesh, the Director of Nayudamma Centre for Development Alternatives in Nellore (AP), used aluminium foil, thermocol sheets and gunny bags to beat the heat!
He put all these materials together on the terrace of his home to deflect the unbearable sun rays. What makes this innovation a winner is that it works well in winters too: by containing the energy generated within the house and keeping it warm.
Click here for instructions to do it yourself!
3. Don’t hate the sun, use it to purify water!
Well, that’s what Dr Anil Rajvanshi did. Inspired from an age-old hack where cotton cloth was used to filter water and then purified by the process of boiling, Anil created a low-cost machine which harnesses the power of the sun.
Using the knowledge that water does not need to be boiled to make it germ free, and even exposure to a lower temperature for a sufficiently long time should suffice, he created a solar water purifier using cotton cloth, glass pipes and sunlight!
Read more about the innovation here.
4. An unassuming native grass to help you breathe easy
Summers can be testing for those with breathing problems and wearing pollution masks on the face or on noses in the scorching heat only adds to the discomfort. Well, you could try making a herbal mask, just the way this schoolboy from Chennai did: using vetiver or Chrysopogon zizanioides!
After researching about vetiver, Arul Srivastva found that not only did this native grass have air purifying properties but also that curtains are made out of it to control the pollutants in the air. This led him to wonder, why couldn’t the same green-technology be incorporated into something like a nose-mask.
And thus he created a filter by weaving the grass himself, that he learnt from bamboo screen weavers!
Read more here.
5. An AC that you can make yourself!
At present, there are many such DIY ACs one can make at home for which you can find many tutorials on YouTube. However, we’d like to draw your attention to a thrifty and natural air conditioning system known as ‘AC-EC’ made by Thiruchi-based tyre mechanic, K Akhtar Ali.
The entire ‘air-conditioner’ comprises a bubble watercan, a bamboo basket, a small bunch of vetiver grass, a terracotta pot and few plastic bottles; only requiring a simple motor to power it up!
While the cost of assembling this innovative AC is just Rs 1,500, you can also go the DIY way! Click here to get the instructions.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)