Updated: Mar 30, 2018
Most people understand that an air-conditioner is just a machine that cools the air in a room. Without it, the room may be warm and uncomfortable for living. But an air-conditioner can do more than just cooling the room. Depending on how you use it, it can either be your "good buddy" or a "bad buddy" without you realising it.
"Bad buddy" will affect you negatively.
When travelling, make the air-conditioner your good travel buddy. Read on and see what it can do more than just room-cooling and how to avoid making them your "bad buddy".
By Default, Cool the Room
The air-conditioner is so-named because it is supposed to "condition" the air in the room for comfortable living. It is not called an "air-chiller", so driving the air-con at chilling temperatures is not the intended purpose of its original invention.
When travelling in cold climatic places, travellers will know to put on warm jackets to keep their bodies warm to prevent catching colds. This is common sense. However, that logical sense vanished when they are in their rooms — they will set the air-con to as low as possible (around 16-18°C) when dressed down. Somehow, the instinct to protect the human body malfunctioned when inside a room.
Operating air-conditioners at cold temperatures will drive up operation costs for the accommodations and make them raise the room rates. Other than costs, prolong exposure to cold and dry air from the air-con will make the body susceptible to dehydration and catching a cold, which will dampen the mood when travelling.
So, make the air-conditioner your good buddy by setting the cooling function to around 22-25°C, which is about cooling for the body without chilling it. Turn the air-con's fan on as moving air has further cooling effect.
Help Dry Clothes
When on trips, there will be times when hand-washing a couple pieces of clothes are necessary and will need a place to dry them. You will probably dry the clothes in the room, unless the accommodation provides a self-service laundry and drying area. If you stay in hotels, you can request for laundry services if you do not mind paying extra charges.
When drying in the room, "ask" the air-conditioner to be your good buddy by helping to dry the clothes as it usually will have a dehumidifying function. By setting the air-con's dehumidifier to dryer mode (less moisture in the air), it will reduce the humidity of incoming air, which will in turn lower the overall humidity in the room. The dryer air can dry the clothes overnight.
Even a cheap and featureless air-conditioner, without an adjustable control for the dehumidifier, will still dehumidify the air to some extent when it cools the outside air — dehumidifying action is a natural by-product of cooling warm air since cold air cannot hold as much water.
You will need to ensure that your clothes are not too thick as they tend to absorb more water and will take longer time to dry. So, pack clothes that are easy to wash and dry when travelling.
After washing, wring out excess water from the clothes and hang them in the bathroom to drip away more water. When the clothes are dripping lesser water, move them to the room and place them directly under the airflow of the air-con. Set the dehumidifying function to the driest mode and let the dry air do the rest of the work. Place the bathroom mat under the clothes to arrest dripping water. Leave them overnight.
Important: Before you retire for the night, set the dehumidifying function back to normal (about 40-50% humidity for humans). This is to prevent the dry air from drying up your face, skin and nasal passage when you sleep and causing sickness. It will take some time for the room's humidity to rise but the clothes will continue to dry up through the night.
Prevent Damages to Electronic Devices
If the air-conditioner is set to make the room very cold and very dry, it will result in static electricity buildup in the room as moisture is removed. Under such conditions, the human body can accumulate static electricity, especially at the fingertip. Not only will your travel partner get a shock when you touch them, electronic devices can also be damaged if large amount of static electricity is discharged through them when touched.
If the air-conditioner is set to make the room very cold but with too high humidity (more moisture), it can result in condensation of water vapour in the electronic devices when stepping out of the cold room into the warm and humid air outside. It is usually visible in watches and cameras but that does not mean it is not happening inside mobile phones. The moisture can cause electronic components to short-circuit or rust and shorten their lifespans.
In summary, making a room too cold is not good for electronic devices. So, keep the temperature of the air-conditioner above 21°C if you do not want to kill your gadgets.
Most often than not, the main culprit to travellers getting sick on travel trips is when setting the air conditioner to too cold — that will be when they are your "bad buddy". So, make them your "good buddy" by doing the above.