Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Solar Energy for Ages

If you remember from childhood days, families depended heavily on solar energy for everything. The sun was valuable to lives then and still is today and will be forever. Only that maybe our parents forgot that they were using solar energy and all they knew was the sunshine that reached them. Maybe.

What do we use solar energy for? If you remember, our mothers used to wake us up early before sunrise. Then they would take our mattresses, blankets and pillows and placed them on the window sill so the sun would shine on them for at least 3 hours before lunch time. They were removed and replaced on the floor before the next sleeping session or siesta. Remember the good afternoon naps? Our mothers were efficient and hardworking. We had the cleanest and puffiest pillows and mattresses - no problem of ticks or dust mites, no problems of asthma and skin allergies. No problem whatsoever. Our homes were free from such infestations. That was yesteryear.

Today, we have forgotten how to make the best use of solar energy except to dry the children's wet school shoes or our cars after a good car wash on a Saturday, or maybe Sunday. Have we forgotten that the sun is an important source of great energy that is left untapped and almost forgotten about its usefulness?

Has anyone given a thought about solar air-conditioning for homes? Why not? Solar energy is not only for heating, it is also good for air-conditioning. How come nobody wants to take it up? We are constantly installing air-conditioning units but that drains electrical energy from the powerhouses (TNB) and natural but depleting reserves. Of course with air-conditioning, electricity bills also triple. Who cares? I do! The University of California at Davis campus experimented on solar air-conditioning for homes in the late 1970s. They built 5 family homes and used solar energy for air-conditioning. That worked very well.

So I am advocating for solar air-conditioning of Malaysian schools, offices, shops and homes. The sun is always there. Why don't we use it? The sun belongs to everyone and it is freely available. Why not use it? Give it a try at least. It might cool your little offices or your TV room, etc. Just give it a try. How many engineers do we have that can take this challenge? This is 55 years post-Merdeka.

So we all have a job to do - to cool Malaysian homes comfortably. That is in repayment for chopping all our trees which kept our homes cool for the last 50 years. I remember as a kid I had to wear thick clothing in the morning and I had to have hot bath at about 11 am because it was so cold. Now I wake up sweating! It is hot and it will remain hot. Why not plant the trees back? They did for schools. But it is the 'big feet' who cleared the big forests who are the culprits. Of course we can all do our part to cool our homes - plant lots of trees and green, green grass. Green our homes, villages, cities and parks.

In the meantime, think about the possibility of solar air-conditioning.