People who grew up without air conditioning often have low-tech routines for cooling their homes, like opening windows and running fans at night.
Some of them now live in senior housing that’s equipped with central air and digital, programmable thermostats.
As extreme heat grows more common, these systems can increase people’s comfort and safety.
But if they’re unfamiliar with the technology, they may unintentionally do things that waste energy and money.
“Some of these folks were leaving their windows open in the middle of the night, but their community had central air,” says Shelby Ruiz of Washington State University’s Integrated Design and Construction Lab.
She recently interviewed seniors at nine housing facilities. Many told her they need help learning how to use the devices in their buildings.
Many said they benefit from printed instructions — something that’s increasingly rare in the age of digital, online tutorials.
She says it’s important to talk to seniors about their habits. So if they sleep with a window open, for example, climate controls can be adjusted accordingly.
“A lot of it comes down to training, and teaching people how to use their spaces,” Ruiz says.
So seniors can use cooling devices in a way that works for them.
Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy / ChavoBart Digital Media