Hazards of Traditional Air Conditioning
Traditional air conditioning feels wonderful on a hot, humid day yet there is a price to pay. The clearest example of air conditioning’s environmental impact is shown every month on the electricity bill. Air conditioning appliances have grown increasingly efficient. Unfortunately, that efficiency results in lowered power bills. With lowered power bills many building owners and homeowners become increasingly willing to run an air conditioner longer. Energy use by itself does not produce great risks to the climate. The risk arrives as the energy production centers on polluting fossil fuels for power.
The greatest risk for the persistent use of air conditioning arrives from the necessary use of refrigerants in forced-air, and window mounted air cooling methods. While the coolants for air condition received scrutiny since 1989 and the introduction of the Montreal Protocol. Using of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) earned attribution for deleting the ozone layer. By 1996 the production of CFCs ceased. Replacing the CFCs were hydro chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). These were a stop gap to help aid reducing the stress on the ozone layer. Currently the replacements of HCFCs are phasing out in favor of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). These coolants earn promotion for excluding the use of chlorine, a documented ozone disruptor. Thought HFCs do not react with ozone, they outperforming CO2 in heat retention by double. This leads to a vicious cycle. As people seek to avoid the heat by using air conditioning, the act of air conditioning contributes to temperature rise.
The environmental impact of air conditioning represents a double threat. Air conditioners use coolant gases with emissions containing twice the global warming potential as CO2. HFC traps 1,400 times more heat over the course of 100 years compared to CO2 Further compounding the issue rests on the copious consumption of electricity. The majority of electricity in the US is powered by coal and all the related emissions. During the wait for better solutions to air conditioning there are several steps one can take to reduce not only the impact on the environment but save on their energy bills.
Reduce your Cooling Requirements Today
A great and inexpensive method of reducing energy consumption center on simple ways to reduce the load on forced air cooling systems. Here are seven actions anyone can perform right now to save energy and the environment;
- Closing blinds to prevent solar gain.
- Using fans to circulate air
- Raise your thermostat to 78 degrees Fahrenheit
- Use an exhaust fan while cooking
- Use washers and dishwashers at night
- Air dry laundry
- Replace or clean the air conditioner filter
The simple act of raising your thermostat one degree warmer can lower a power bill by 3%. Each degree warmer increases savings while reducing environmental impact. The other activities enable the higher thermostat setting to feel more comfortable. Relative temperature represents the perception of temperature a person feels. Various factors including, humidity, temperature of surfaces, and wind effect the sensation of heat a person feels. Keeping the walls and floors cool, reducing humidity and increasing circulation allow warmer temperatures to feel cooler.
Coaxing out best performance
There are five key methods for using your major appliances optimally to reduce energy consumption and residual heat output including;
- Keep the fridge and freezer fully stocked. Empty space requires more cooling
- Cook with a microwave or counter appliance.
- Use a dishwasher, they use less water than handwashing
- Use cold water to wash clothes
- Turn off appliances when not in use, even unplug them
Many of the appliances in the home increase performance and lessen the drastic impact on resources. Many of the household appliances use electricity and generate heat while in use. The largest consumer of electricity and substancial generation of heat occupies the kitchen in the form of the refrigerator. Refrigerators work in exactly the same way air conditioners work by removing heat from inside and expelling it outside, into the kitchen.
Frugal improvements Efficiency
To further improve the energy efficiency of a building there are simple and frugal improvements one can take including;
- Seal the envelope of a house
- Replace incandescent bulbs with LED or CFL
To seal the envelope of a house allows the cooled air to reside within a building longer allowing air conditioning to actively cool for shorter and less frequently.
When energy bills and environmental impact are still of vital concern larger projects can substantially increase the cooling efficiency of a home. There are five major renovations or projects to improve the thermal performance of a building or home including;
- Increase insulation in the attic to at least R-30
- Replace the largest draw on energy, a refrigerator.
- Purchase a newer more efficient air-conditioning unit
- Install a whole house fan
- Seal the HVAC ducts
Two of the projects involve the replacement of older model cooling devices (refrigerator, and forced air compressor). The vitally important aspect centers on purchasing certified energy star appliances. Two major projects in the attic can greatly improve the thermal performance of a building. The first project centers on insulating the attic creating a buffer between the house and the outside air. Installing a whole house fan, represents a method of allowing the heat from a house to rise into the attic and exit the building. Without a whole house fan an attic traps all the risen hot air of an entire house. A final project centers on reducing the loss of cool air in transit to the rooms by insulating the ducts. Insulating the ducts allow for less dissipation during travel.