Air conditioning: an ingenious invention – an almost indispensable addition to the home, that is, where appliances are concerned. Whether inside or outside the domicile (and automobile too, if you want to get real about this), being able to take air and “condition” it so as to provide one a level of comfort, most especially when Mother Nature turns up the heat, well, if you’ll pardon the pun, that’s way cool!
When it comes to conditioning (cooling) air, getting the multitude of affecting factors just so, now that’s the tricky part. Everything from compressor/condenser and thermostat placement to things like temperature-setting and the matter related to the filters themselves, can mean the difference between the air-conditioning-system performing up to a certain expectation level and something less so. Moreover, the way such a system performs determines energy consumption and cost of operation and can affect system health and life and even air-health too.
System (main unit) placement
Where central air conditioning is concerned, properly locating the main compressor/condenser unit is important.
EarthWorks Press’ “30 Simple Energy Things You Can Do To Save The Earth” practical guidebook,1 explains that in keeping these electro-mechanical apparatuses out of direct sunlight (in the shade, in other words), as much as five percent can be saved energy-consumption-wise on energy use compared to one getting baked by the sun.
Getting the thermostat placement/setting correct
The same holds true for thermostat placement. Where the thermostat is located can influence thermostat temperature setting.
It’s true! A thermostat placed in the hallway may not be the best placement location simply from the standpoint that the hallway itself may not be truly indicative of what atmospheric conditions (temperatures) are elsewhere in the living space and for this reason locating the temperature-control device there may not provide all factors needed in terms of a proper thermostat-temperature setting being made.
Say, for example, there is a wide temperature differential between the hallway and the living room – the hallway being much cooler. As long as the thermostat is set for the desired temperature, and the hallway temperature is lower than that which is desired and even though the temperature in the living room is higher than that desired, the system may not turn on when wanted which would therefore necessitate a lower temperature setting.
The exact opposite scenario could be the case, in which case, the living room might be colder than wanted which would require a higher thermostat-temperature setting. It all depends.
The other part of the equation is the main compressor/condenser operating configuration. There are those that have two power modes or ranges – normal and high. Depending on thermostat-temperature setting this determines if the high-power mode will either engage or not. Really simply, high mode kicks in when the demand is there and won’t when it isn’t. Here again, the level at which the system is operating influences energy consumption and therefore the cost associated with that.
Central air-conditioning system efficiency can also be improved with the addition of ceiling and/or floor fans which can help with both air circulation and cooling. Fans used to help keep the interior air at a more comfortable level may mean the air conditioning system can be used less to get the same level of cooling desired than what would be the case without said fans, which, bottom line, may mean working a little harder is the central air conditioning system itself.
Window dressings, filters and vents
Keeping things like blinds/curtains closed/drawn, vents open to positions where air flow yields maximum efficiency and room doors ajar (not completely shut) will allow air in the home to better circulate creating less of an impediment to proper operation.
And, by all means, filters that are dirty and in need of changing can affect a system’s performance and make said system overall operate less efficiently.
In top-notch condition
A smooth-running air conditioning system is a, well, air-friendly or air-friendlier air conditioning system. Such makes the task of air-cooling to come about more easily, the overall system presenting less of a load and therefore lower demand is placed on the electricity supply, whether that be in the form of a photovoltaic (solar panel) array or on the electric grid itself. This, in turn, could have a definite positive effect on the air if in what is being distributed via the electric grid is generated non-renewably which means from fossil-fuel-combustion processes.
So, in operating an efficient and well-maintained air-conditioning system, as long as there aren’t any blackouts experienced that therefore renders such non-operable, then there is every reason to expect that said invention, intended to condition (cool) air as designed, will deliver when called upon to and do so for many, many years to boot.
- EarthWorks Press, “30 Simple Energy Things You Can Do To Save The Earth,” 2006, p. 24, Distributed by Pacific Gas and Electric Company.
Image above (top): GettyImages/iStockphoto
Published by Alan Kandel
Last updated on Mar. 22, 2023 at 5:50 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time.