The destructive effect of the COVID-19 outbreak is still continuing. On the other hand, summer heatwaves are worsening people's health conditions. In this scorching heat, it is quite annoying to stay inside large commercial places, industries, offices, and even homes. However, many people are asking whether using Air Conditioners (ACs) during the COVID19 pandemic is safe. For several months debates are going on this issue among scientists, engineers, authorities, and general people. However, let's discuss some guidelines about how to use ACs (Air Conditioners) safely amid the COVID19 pandemic.

Guidelines for Operating ACs during COVID19 Pandemic

Considering the climate of Sub-continent countries, ISHRAE (The Indian Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers) has recommended some guidelines regarding how to run air conditioners safely during the coronavirus pandemic. These suggestions can be helpful for operating ACs in different commercial and industrial places in Bangladesh.

Set Temperatures and Humidity Properly

What would be the ideal air conditioner temperature for your room during the COVID19 pandemic? According to the recommendation of ISHRAE and CPWD, for any home-run AC, like Room AC, Split AC, or Window AC, the temperature level should be kept within the range of 24 to 30 degrees centigrade.

In addition to this, ISHRAE emphasizes maintaining the relative humidity of the indoor environment. You can easily check the humidity of your surrounding ambient by downloading any 'Weather App' on your Smartphone. The ISHRAE guideline says that the humidity of an indoor environment should rest between 40 and 70 percent.

Therefore, if you are living in a humid climate, then you need to keep the AC in 'cool' mode and set the temperature closer to or at 24 degrees centigrade. On the other hand, when you are staying in a dry climate area, then you must set the temperature close to or at 30 degrees centigrade.

Apply Electric Fan

ISHRAE report states that when we breathe dry air, the mucous membrane of our lungs becomes dry. It thickens the fluid overlining of the cells and hampers the actions of cilia - the little hairs which protect the lungs from deep settling of harmful and non-harmful particles. As a result, the alien particles can settle more deeply inside our lungs.

To prevent such mishaps in the dry climate zones, ISHRAE suggests running electric fans to enhance the air circulation while AC is operating. You can also apply exhausting electric fans which will push the hot air outside the room. However, you need to clean the fan blades frequently to keep the indoor air clean.

Ensure Proper Ventilation

What precautions should be taken while using ACs? Instead of allowing recirculation of the same air inside an indoor space, ISHRAE also suggests keeping the windows slightly open to let the fresh outdoor air enter the room.

When you are staying in a room, keep the opposite-facing window and door slightly open to promote cross-circulation of fresh cool air. Though opening a window or door - while running AC - might lose some cool air and cost you a more electric bill at month-end, it can help to keep the indoor air fresher.

Fit Filter in Your AC

What precautions should be taken when you are using an evaporative cooler or desert cooler? To combat the soaring temperatures, you can fit in an air filter in an evaporative cooler in order to keep the dust away and preserving the hygiene of the indoor environment. However, make sure that your cooler is capable of drawing outdoor air efficiently to assist proper ventilation. The opposite-facing windows and doors must be kept open slightly to reduce humidity.

Besides, evaporative cooler, other types of ACs must be fitted with filters. The ISHRAE guideline recommends cleaning and disinfecting the air cooler on a regular basis. More importantly, the released water must be drained and refilled frequently. The routine servicing of AC is also necessary to avoid any malfunction.

And, the opposite-facing windows must be kept open to ensure proper ventilation. ISHRAE guideline discourages people to use portable air coolers that can't draw fresh air from the outdoor environment.

Bottom Line

According to the views of engineers and health-experts, using the window air conditioners in a residential setting can be safe if the people who share the space don't carry the coronavirus. However, a problem may arise when you are staying in a building that uses central cooling. If one infected person stays inside the building, the central air cooler poses a high risk of spreading the coronavirus to other people staying there unless adequate precautions - such as outdoor air ventilation, temperature and humidity control, AC filtering procedures, etc - are taken properly. These central air conditioning systems are widely used in shopping malls, government offices, hospitals, corporate workplaces, industries, etc. So think before you enter those places!

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