Environmental exclusive: Why no air conditioning?

As temperatures rise through the summer months, individuals may want to keep their houses cooler. However, there are restrictions on the use of air conditioners.

Only mission-essential functions and special equipment, which require controlled temperatures, are authorized in an air-conditioned environment; all other air conditioning units require a waiver.

“Ramstein follows German regulations regarding air conditioning,” said Peter Best, 86th Civil Engineer Squadron utility engineer. “For example, Ramstein Air Base reduces energy consumption and environmental burden by restricting the amount of air conditioning units allowed on the installation in accordance with United States Air Forces in Europe Instruction 32-7040 and Ramstein Air Base Instruction 32-9001.”

The RABI states that portable or temporary air conditioning units are not authorized for use.

Air conditioning in Germany was not previously a necessity as the summer temperatures were not as extreme as they are now.

“Air conditioners require too much energy to function properly,” said Markus Schaaff, 86th CES electrical engineer. “Typically, air pollution mainly comes from the burning of fossil fuels, and much of the world’s energy is still produced this way. Less air conditioning usage helps to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide pumped into our atmosphere and curbs the effects of ozone layer depletion.

Environmental exclusive is a series designed to educate members of the Kaiserslautern Military Community on how individual choices impact the Earth. Simple changes can lead to cost savings, comply with Germany’s environmental standards and promote a more sustainable Earth.

So how do individuals keep their houses cooler?

“One of the most effective ways to keep a home cool in the summer is to crack, or open, windows during the night to allow the coldest air of the day inside the house,” said Luis Saldivar, 86th CES energy manager. “In the morning, shutting windows and rollladens help keep the cool air inside and keep heat from the sun out.”

Rollladens are roller shutters that block direct sunlight from entering windows and reduce heat buildup, inherently cooling the inside of the home.

“It’s crucial to ventilate and replace the air in the home at least once a day for your health and to prevent mold and mildew,” Saldivar said.  “Ventilating your house will keep it cooler, but it can also improve mood and well-being, just by opening the windows.”

Another key method for cooling is what Germans call Durchlüften, or push ventilation. Push ventilation is achieved when “you open the windows completely, allow the air to circulate, and then shut the windows,” Schaaff explained.  “You want to exchange the air from inside with air from outside completely. The longer the time for air exchange, the better. Merely tilting the windows isn’t enough for durchlüften. It may make the problem worse. A tilt is bad because the air replacement needs much more time. You can get water condensation on the wall on top of the window, which can lead to mold. Fully opening the windows is the best practice for air circulation.”

Other ways to keep houses cooler:

  • Use fans with correct counterclockwise rotation – allows blades to push air downward and increase the wind chill-effect
  • Cook outside on a grill, this will prevent heating the kitchen
  • Use natural light when possible or use energy-efficient light bulbs because regular light bulbs radiate excess heat when they are producing energy
  • Unplug appliances and electronics when not in use as items plugged into a socket produce heat