Our energy needs lead to some massive consumption, but it can be a surprise what eats up the most energy. Statistics show that air conditioning accounts for nearly 50 percent of the energy use in the United States during peak summer months, and air conditioning is responsible for nearly 100 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year. As a result, if you’re looking to try and cut down on your carbon footprint, it may be a good idea to start with your air conditioning, particularly if you live in a place with hot summers or similar situations.
What Can I Do?
In order to get your green AC unit set up, it’s important to decide exactly the type of system is best for you.
Here are some important traits of greener AC units versus their counterparts:
Smaller Sizes: An under-sized air conditioner not only won’t keep the home cool but will keep trying, wasting electricity and running up the household’s energy bills. A too-small unit won’t be able to balance the air cooled in the unit’s condenser with the humid, expended air that the evaporator draws out from the home.
Two-Stage Compressors: It’s the compressors of an air conditioning unit that typically uses the most electricity. Compressors have to work hard to squeeze out the heated vapors so that the refrigerant returns to its cooled state. Two-stage compressors automatically compress less on cool days and more when it’s hot, saving energy.
Customized Matched Systems: Some eco-friendly air conditioners achieve optimum energy efficiency by using one source of energy for cooling and another for heating. Customizing each component of the system, from the thermostat to the indoors coils, creates systems based on a home’s individual heating and cooling needs.
Geothermal Heat Pumps: Geothermal heat pumps use the earth as a heat sink, capitalizing on the natural flow of heat from a warm area to a cool one. They can be up to 40 percent more efficient at cooling a home than conventional air conditioners. While pricey to install, geothermal heat pumps recoup their upfront costs through savings on monthly energy bills.
Programmable Thermostats: Installing a programmable thermostat is one of the most affordable ways to green up an air conditioning system. Homeowners can program the thermostat to remain off when no one is at home and to automatically turn on and cool the home for the household’s return.
Regular Maintenance: HVAC professionals should inspect and service air conditioning units at least once each year. Maintenance includes testing refrigerant pressure, accessing the unit’s air flow and checking for leaks. HVAC specialist may also recommend modifications to increase the system’s energy efficiency.
Replacing Air Conditioners: Over 89 million heating and cooling systems in the United States were installed more than ten years ago. These systems operate well below the environmental and energy efficiency standards that are in place today. Sometimes the best option is to replace existing units with green air conditioners.
However, this is only the start. There are many different technologies being developed to support both energy efficiency and new technology. In addition, if this isn’t in the cards, there are other ways you can cut the energy expenditures while attending to your cooling needs. Remember, going green is not an all or nothing situation. Here are some simple ways you can make a difference:
Install a Whole House Fan: Whole house fans are installed in the ceiling leading into your attic, and cool your residence by drawing cool outside air through open windows into your home, and expelling warmer air up and out through ventilated attic space. A whole house fan can eliminate the need for air conditioning in mild climates or can supplement air conditioning in hotter regions.
Install an Evaporative Cooler (a.k.a. Swamp Cooler) —Swamp coolers are quite a bit less expensive to purchase and install than air conditioning, and they run on about 1/10th of the energy of central air. Unfortunately, they won’t do you any good if you live in more humid areas of the country.
How Do I Do It?
A major part of a green AC unit is knowing how to set it up. Unlike many other initiatives you can use to try and do things yourself, setting up your AC unit isn’t in the cards. As a result, you’re going to want to partner with a company that has knowledge not only on the latest technology, but also how to make them a better fit for your lifestyle and home. For example, Colorado-based HVAC company Go Green Heating and Air offers several different solutions that are effective, efficient, and quiet.