Ancient Terracotta Air Coolers Help Combat Record-Breaking Heat in India with Sustainable Cooling Solutions

Ancient Indian terracotta air coolers, using earthenware and evaporation, are providing sustainable and eco-friendly relief from record-breaking heat, offering a traditional solution to modern climate challenges.

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Terracotta Air Coolers

Image: Terracotta Air Coolers

As India grapples with intense heat waves that have sent temperatures soaring to record levels, some are turning to an ancient cooling method for relief - terracotta air coolers. These traditional clay pot coolers, known as 'Ghara' or 'Sheer Khora' in Hindi, have been used for centuries to naturally cool indoor spaces in an eco-friendly and sustainable way.


The basic premise is simple but effective. The porous terracotta clay is filled with water, and as the liquid evaporates through the ceramic surface, it creates a cool airflow through evaporative cooling. Setting these earthenware pots near a window allows the induced airflow to ventilate the room with chilled air.

With widespread electricity shortages and soaring electricity bills from air conditioning use, these inexpensive traditional coolers are gaining renewed popularity, especially in rural areas. The clay pots only require water and no electricity to operate, making them an affordable and sustainable solution accessible to all.

"These environmentally-friendly coolers were used widely by our ancestors to beat the scorching heat. With temperatures crossing 45°C (113°F), we've brought them back as an alternative to energy-guzzling ACs," said Rakesh Mehra, who runs a workshop in New Delhi producing the terracotta cooking pots.

While modern air conditioning provides cool comfort, it also contributes to higher electricity demands and greenhouse gas emissions. The ancient earthenware coolers eliminate those environmental impacts by harnessing basic principles of evaporation without using energy.

As climate change fuels more intense heat waves worldwide, low-tech sustainable cooling methods like these traditional Indian clay coolers could play a role in providing relief while minimizing environmental strain. Sometimes looking to the past can inspire solutions for the future.

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