A variety of solutions have entered the market in recent years, which provide low-income households and workshops or small factories with a simple cooling solution that can be installed in a wall or window, basically providing them with a natural ‘air-conditioning’ system with no or low energy bills and using locally available materials and low-skill construction techniques. Solutions either use evaporative cooling or wind driven cooling (ventilation) to lower the temperature inside by about 5⁰C.
An example is the Eco Cooler, developed in Bangladesh. This Do-It-Yourself device is quite easy to make at minimal cost, using discarded plastic bottles. The plastic bottles are cut in half, mounted on a sturdy board with bottleneck sized holes and placed over a window with the wider part of the bottles facing outwards. The developers have teamed up with Grameen Intel Social Business4 , to bring this so-called Eco Cooler to villages in Bangladesh. Teams are sent out to villages to teach local people how to make the Eco-Coolers, who are subsequently asked to pay it forward.
In Delhi, India, an architect recently invented a cooler for a factory that was keen to keep its workers cool but couldn’t afford a large electrical AC system. The cooler uses terracotta tubes (clay-based ceramic pottery) which are arranged in a spherical shape, held together by a metal structure. Recycled water from the factory is poured or in this case pumped over the porous terracotta, which is absorbed by the clay and then slowly evaporates, lowering the temperature of the surrounding air.
To achieve large-scale dissemination and uptake of natural air conditioning systems it is critical for the right enabling environment to be in place ranging from the right partnerships to the right policies and business models to reach low-income consumers.