Cooling Facts

We’ve realised over the past few weeks that there is a world of difference between 23° and 24°. The latter feels decidedly warm and cosy like a winters evening by the fire and the former slightly cool but not overly chilly when in a t-shirt and shorts.

To obtain this sort of climate indoors when outside it is hot and muggy with overnight temperatures rarely as low as 25° air conditioning is a must. The recirculating fans hum their low thundery rumble day and night as warm air is drawn in from the apartment, chilled, effectively dried as any moisture condenses out (this is what went wrong in Bahrain last year when we returned from a few weeks away to a disaster), cleansed by filters that remove pollen and dust then blown out again.

Usually the open plan kitchen/dining/living area is set to 24 and the bedrooms to 23, the latter being about the warmest you can get a comfortable nights sleep under a thin duvet. The apartment’s two systems don’t always understand our requirements for comfort properly and often waver around 22.5° when set to 23 or a sticky 24.2° – 24.5° when set to the higher temperature. Opening or closing bedroom doors helps – a balancing act we are learning to play!

However we apparently should be grateful as many in Dubai are on a district cooling system where chilled air is produced centrally and then piped into homes. This results in a flat fee per square metre plus an additional electricity cost for circulating the air. And the air isn’t always as chilled as it might be depending on the overall demand from all the users on the system. At least we are only at the mercy of our erratic thermostats and our DEWA bill which is surprisingly low considering the aircon is on 24×7 at present. The reasonable electricity bill is in part down to the compact size of our apartment (1,021 sq m) and the fact that being an apartment with neighbours all round means we mutually benefit from each others cooling as well as the icey blast that the buildings’ owners fill the common areas with.

But I am already looking forward to that moment in the Autumn when the wretched noise can be turned off for a few months and the windows opened. I have sympathy with tinnitus sufferers, if we’re busy or the TV is on the noise seems to disappear but sitting quietly reading or right now writing this, the constant thundering drives you mad.