In modern times, air conditioners are ubiquitous in homes, cars, and buildings. It is common to see shops and offices with the AC running at an all-time high during the summer months. Most of the power used for these HVAC systems comes from burning fossil fuels, which are responsible for greenhouse gas emissions that significantly contribute to global warming.
Air conditioners help during extremely hot and humid summer weather. Anyone with a cooling system will be using it! As a result, the air-conditioner industry is big enough to be a significant contributor to the world’s energy consumption. They cool rooms by removing heat from them. The primary mechanism is heat transfer, where refrigerants in contact with a surface absorb heat when they evaporate from the liquid state to a gaseous state and absorb heat from the warm indoor air leaving it cool.
However, it is also essential to look at the indoor pollution generated by the appliances in houses and businesses. Air conditioners have some of the greatest potentials for indoor air pollution.
How Do Air Conditioning Systems Contribute to Air Pollution?
There are various ways by which an air-conditioning system can contribute to air pollution.
Air conditioners consume a lot of energy to cool our homes. The use of energy leads to more demand for its production, thus producing more pollutants, especially greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases are believed to cause global warming and climate change, and their concentrations are continuously rising.
Especially when the electricity is obtained from burning fossil fuels, causing carbon dioxide and methane to release. These are currently the most prevalent greenhouse gases, meaning electricity generation contributes greatly to global warming pollution.
Carbon dioxide is a significant contributor to ozone depletion. This is one of the significant threats to our ozone layer. Ozone is a protective layer that filters out harmful, cancer-causing radiation from the sun’s rays. Depleting this protective layer could lead to a higher risk of skin cancer and cataracts, and could damage genetics and the immune system.
While carbon dioxide usually is very harmless, carbon monoxide is highly toxic and can affect the central nervous system and heart. In addition, it causes headaches, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting, which are symptoms that can last long-term.
Hydrofluorocarbons and Chlorofluorocarbons
Old air conditioners run on a powerful refrigerant called R-22, a chlorofluorocarbon. It contains chlorine, fluorine, and carbon atoms. The compound is strong, chemically stable, and removes heat effectively. The issue with this refrigerant is that it is an ozone-depleting substance, or ODS, which contributes to ozone depletion. As the name suggests, ODS harms the ozone layer by releasing chlorine atoms that attack the ozone molecule. This temporary ozone depletion is known as the Montreal Protocol, which was established in 1987 to regulate this compound.
In response to the concerns over ODS and Ozone Depletion, many manufacturers now produce air conditioners manufactured without strong refrigerants such as R-22, and now use hydrofluorocarbons or hydrochlorofluorocarbons. The main difference between R-22 and the new HFCs is that HFCs have a much lower global warming potential. They also don’t destroy ozone but, eventually, breaks down into harmless compounds.
One major problem associated with air conditioning is the dust and debris that get into a home through the ventilation system. The devices create high pressure, which sucks in indoor pollutants such as dust, pollen, and other allergens. Unfortunately, they can attract pests in homes where people sleep at night. These pests can potentially cause allergies and symptoms that are difficult to diagnose and treat as well.
Dirty ducts can also create the perfect environment for mold and mildew growth. This can be very hazardous, especially to people with allergies and respiratory problems. In addition, some bacteria can grow in the ducts, leading to infections and unpleasant odors. This can pollute the indoor air, and would require professional cleaning and indoor air solutions to remedy.
Filters in air conditioners need to be cleaned regularly. This is a crucial step. When filters are too dirty, they will not be able to clean the air properly. Instead, they clog and aggravate the unit components by trapping more dust, pollen, and other allergens inside the system.
If the filter is too dirty, it will not be able to do its job effectively. You could get more dust or pollen in your home, which can trigger reactions for people with allergies or asthma.
Low-quality filters can also release allergens that can trigger respiratory problems. The indoor air will not be as clean as it would be if the filters were properly maintained.
Air conditioners are manufactured from many different materials. The most common ones are metals, plastics, and composites. Recently, manufacturers have opted to use plastics since it is cheaper and easy to manufacture. The production of plastic is detrimental to the environment as it releases carbon dioxide, which causes the greenhouse effect. Plastic is also completely non-biodegradable.
What to Consider When Purchasing an Air Conditioner
The size of the room you need to cool is going to be a great starting point to help you decide what type of air conditioner will be right for you. Look at your expectations and needs so that you can pick the right appliance for your home. The technicians at Honest Air Conditioning can assist you with these estimations as well, and even help you pick out a quality unit!
Check for Energy Star Certification
When you look for an air conditioner, ensure it is considered Energy Star certified. This shows that the appliance is energy efficient, which means your energy bill will be reduced. Energy Star appliance has a label placed on the device to boast its efficiency as well as list benefits to you!
Be Aware of Alternatives
There are alternative options to air conditioners, such as heat pumps, window units, and solar-powered units. These alternatives are always a consideration in any home renovation project since they can save money and provide the same performance as air conditioning at a lower cost and smaller carbon footprint.
For safety reasons, an air conditioner should be located away from doors and stairs to protect it from constant impact or accidental damage. It should also be installed in an area that is easily accessible for maintenance and repairs. A properly installed and maintained air conditioner will keep the rooms and home cool, comfortable, and clean while reducing your energy consumption. At Honest Air Conditioning in Mesa, AZ, we help install, repair, and maintain your air conditioning unit.
We offer heating and air conditioning installation, repairs, and maintenance. We also offer indoor air quality solutions, which include air scrubbers, filters, air purifiers, and UV lights. UV lights have the potential to rid your indoor air of bacteria and viruses! Visit our website to learn more about these solutions, our reviews, and A+ BBB accreditation. While on the website, you’ll also be able to view specials, general services and pricing, and even request an estimate or service! Contact Honest Air Conditioning today for your appointment!