How Your AC Is Causing Air Pollution

Environmental Health in O'Fallon, MO

During the hot summer months, our air conditioning systems help us stay cool. While some use them for comfort, others need them for health and safety reasons. For instance, those with lung disorders, allergies, and other respiratory conditions may experience severe negative effects if they lack AC systems.

Nevertheless, while we’re all staying cool and comfortable indoors, we might be causing damage to the environment.

In part, AC units harm the environment. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), found in ACs release ozone-depleting pollutants. Also, ACs take vast quantities of energy to function. The energy comes from fossil fuels combustion, which further contributes to ozone depletion. However, we can’t simply just get rid of them.

What options do you have if you wish to maintain safety and contribute to environmental protection? Learn more about air conditioning systems and how you may enjoy the perfect blend with ecologically friendly air conditioning unit solutions.

How AC Systems Pollute the Air

When you think about pollution, you generally envision trash by the side of the road or on the shore. Or perhaps you consider the massive volume of gas emissions emanating from certain industrial sites. Only a few think about their AC systems.

Turning on your air conditioner at the beginning of summer does not cause much of a stir. If it is old, you may hear some spitting and sputtering. There may be leaks here and there. You probably don’t think, “This AC’s pollution is harming the environment!” What we cannot see with our eyes is frequently difficult to understand.

Apart from the garbage and the visible smoke emanating from the stacks of your local production plant, other elements can equally harm the environment and atmosphere. Invisible gases from air conditioning units contribute to air pollution in treacherous ways.

When AC manufacturers first began producing these units, they used CFCs, a liquid refrigerant to generate the cooling effect. It was later found that CFCs were so damaging to the environment that they were accordingly banned in contemporary cooling equipment. Currently manufacturers use HFCs.

HFC has hydrogen properties rather than chlorine properties. It performs the same function as CFC, but it degrades more quickly and easily. Nevertheless, it doesn’t destroy the stratospheric ozone layer.

In general, the potential for global warming issues associated with the HFCs use in air conditioning, aerosols, building insulation, fire extinguishers, and other applications requiring gas emission to operate is lower.

Do AC Systems Produce Harmful Gases?

The brief answer is that AC systems do not produce carbon dioxide (CO2) directly. The more direct sources of CO2 emissions are the combustion of hydrocarbon fuels:

  • Oil
  • Gasoline
  • Natural gas
  • Wood
  • Coal

When fossil fuels burn or combust, they combine with oxygen. The result is the emission of water vapor and carbon dioxide, both of which travel toward the atmosphere.

Although air conditioning systems do not produce carbon dioxide, they require a great deal of electricity. And this electricity comes from the combustion of hydrocarbon-based fuels. Depending on the season, standard air conditioners consume between 3000 and 5000 watts of electricity per hour of use; when the air is warmer, they’ll require more power to function. Unfortunately, this is highly detrimental to the environment and incredibly costly.

How Much Carbon Dioxide Do Air Conditioning Units Emit?

In 2009, the Energy Information Administration claimed that 87% of homes in the United States were equipped with air conditioning. In 1993, it was reported that 68% of residential locations had air conditioning.

Hoff Heating & AC expects this trend to follow the same projection, culminating in installing air conditioning in nearly all homes. According to the most recent data, it is estimated that ACs account for up to 6% of all energy consumption. This equates to roughly 100M tons of carbon dioxide released annually into the ozone layer.

And so, to answer the crucial question, “Do air conditioning systems contribute to air pollution?” Switching on your air conditioner will not produce harmful CO2 emissions, but the power required to operate it will.

Other Negative Effects of AC Units

After learning that excessive use of AC units is detrimental to the environment, you might wonder whether the same applies to your health. Indeed, AC operations can have adverse health effects including:

  • Dry skin and eyes
  • Allergic reactions
  • Noise pollution
  • Headaches

It’s worth noting that these effects arise when you excessively use your equipment.

Are There Environmentally Friendly AC Units?

Unless you’re using the presently outlawed CFC-based units, all modern units are eco-friendlier. And so, be sure to check your AC labels before you continue using them.

Also, practice essential energy-saving tactics, such as switching off your AC during summer, when it’s really not that warm. Hoff Heating & AC recommends putting your fan in the window to help air circulation or purchasing intelligent thermostats to help with temperature regulation.

You can also keep your home’s temperature higher while on vacation or at work to save money on your regular utility bills (it doesn’t make sense to condition an unoccupied room). Remember that even if you turn your temperature a few degrees higher, you can save a lot; you can save about 10% of your energy costs if you make the thermostat 7 to 10 degrees warmer for at least eight hours. Your utility bills are tied to your energy usage, and so, apart from helping the environment, you’ll also save up a few dollars.

Choosing the Best AC System

It is worth noting that not all HFC-based AC units are good for you. Although the environment should be vital in determining what to buy, there are other equally important factors such as durability, the cost of the equipment, power consumption, and size, among others.

And so, prior to taking the plunge and purchasing your new equipment, it’s best to know your options. Some include the following:

  • Central AC – It cools your house through existing ductworks
  • Window AC units – These are good for small spaces or single room cooling
  • Ductless, mini-split air conditioning units – If your home lacks existing ductwork, we advise getting these
  • Portable air conditioning systems – These are usually self-contained, and you can move them from one room to the next
  • Hybrid AC units – Alternate energy using a heat pump system
  • Geothermal HVAC systems – These have a geothermal coil, which you’ll install into the ground to pull heat from below the earth’s surface for warmth during winter. They also extract heat for cooling in the summer.

There’s always a thin line between making an ethically right and wrong decision. Thus, it can be overwhelming when choosing the best AC system for your household and the environment. Rather than go through all the hustle, contact [company name] today to get the best advice. Hoff Heating & AC offers HVAC repair and replacement services, in addition to brand new ground-up installations of air conditioner systems, furnaces, air quality systems, and heat pumps in O’Fallon, MO, and the surrounding areas. Our emergency hotline is on 24 hours to ensure your comfort and minimal disruptions to your busy lifestyle. Call Hoff Heating & AC today to schedule an appointment.