Thursday, January 20, 2011

ways of keeping cool

kampong days

the cheap and portable way is to use the straw fan (above) or the foldable paper or silk fan that can make a snapping sound, when folded or spread open. in those kampong days, when electricity was in short supply, this was the predominant way. in the past, at chinese funerals, these fans were given out to keep the mourners cool. in the present, at weddings in australia, especially those held in the open, i have seen the straw fans being presented to guests.

singapore today

the electric fan and the air-conditioner appear to be standard items in nearly every home in singapore. despite the widespread use of the air-conditioners, the electric fan still has a place in every home because it consumes less electricity.

in the 70s, the window-type of airconditioner was still the most common. its popularity declined from the 80s when the split and multi-split systems appeared on the scene. today, it is very rare to see the window-type installed in a flat, especially, in bigger flats.

melbourne, australia

i have seen this (above photo) on the roof-top of quite a number of homes here in melbourne. i had often wondered if it was meant for ventilation or it was some form of air-conditioning. i found out sometime ago that it is an alternative for air-conditioning. it is called an evaporative cooler.

an evaporative cooler is best suited for an environment with low humidity. so that rules out its use in humid singapore. its installation is relatively cheap compared to the traditional air-conditioners. it also costs much less to operate. the evaporative system is based simply on a water-pump and a fan.

so if it is cheaper to install and operate, why is there no rush to have it fixed in more homes? unlike air-conditioners which can be effective regardless of the level of humidity, the evaporative cooler depends on dry air to be effective. if humidity remains high for a few days, the moist pads (that make the evaporative coooler work) can begin to smell.

despite the fact that air-conditioners are not as environmentally friendly as the evaporative coolers, just as many people have opted to use them to keep themselves cool.


Lam Chun See said...

The other night I was watching the Chinese movie on the Great Tangshan Earthquake of 1976. There was scene where the kids where enjoying there electric fan. And the mother warned them to be careful not to stick their fingers through the metal grille. I realized that the electric fans of our days were indeed different from the one of today. The gaps in the grille where large enough for us to stick our fingers through.

yg said...

chun see, those antique fans have a casing where the gaps are large enough not only for you to stick your fingers, you can even put your wrong wrist through the gaps.

Andrew said...

You can still get those old straw fans in Chinatown for bout $1.40 - $1.60! :)

yg said...

andrew, in the 50s and 60s, i guess the straw fan would have cost not more than 30 cents.

mynewjourney said...

Hi, which part of chinatown i can get the straw fans? Will be good if there is a website.

yg said...

hi mynewjourney, i guess you may be able to get the straw fan from one of the many souvenir shops along smith street. sorry, i don't know of any address or website.