Air conditioning is a method of replacing hot environmental air with cool air through a refrigeration system in which the warm air is enclosed in a cooling machine and then released (Department of Energy, n.d). The air conditioning system known as HVAC is the system most commonly being used nowadays as it is comprised of heating, ventilation and air conditioning all in one thus making it the most energy efficient method. The two main systems of air conditioning systems are the refrigerative and the evaporative air cooling systems.
Air conditioners are made up of several parts that work in harmony to ensure that cool air is released in col environment. The evaporator is an indoor coil that is cold and this is the one that is responsible for cooling hot air. There is also an outdoor condenser whose responsibility is to release the hot air to the outside. These two coils are surrounded by aluminum material. There is also a fluid that transfers heat from the evaporator to the condenser and the pump that forces the fluid between the two is known as the compressor (Joseph, 1991). The fluid is evaporated in the evaporator and this process end up cooling the hot indoor air. The warm gas is then pumped outside into the condenser and liquefies releasing heat into the air in the tubings and in the aluminum fins. There are two man types of air conditioners:
Room air conditioners
Packaged central air conditioners.
Split system air conditioners
Room air conditioners are placed on windows or walls with the evaporator fans facing the inside of the house or the room while the other fans face away from the house and thus there is no tubing system connecting the air conditioner to the inside of the house or he room. They are much cheaper to maintain compared to the central air conditioners but are less energy efficient according to Joseph (1991). The packaged central air conditioners have the evaporator, the condenser and the compressor all in one cabinet and this is usually placed on the roof or on the basement of buildings. This type of air conditioner is mostly used in commercial buildings. The most energy efficient air conditioners however are the evaporative types as they work by cooling the outdoor air and then blowing it inside the house thus bringing about a cooling effect without the much complicated tube system. They are also much cheaper to install and maintain and are the best in hot and dry climates. Their energy efficiency is 25% less than that of the central air conditioners (Holladay, 2012)
SEER is the seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, used to determine the energy efficiency of an air conditioning system. The SEER rating is supposed to be on the label on the packaging of each air conditioning set in the market. Those products with a high SEER rating have fetch a higher price than those with a lower rating due to the fact that they are more energy efficient. It is advisable to buy one with high ratings in spite of the high purchasing price especially for those individuals who use air conditioners for large periods of time and also for those individuals with high electricity costs (Department of Energy, n.d). There are various pros and cons of using an energy efficient method of air conditioning and these are:
High performance Air conditioning systems that are highly energy efficient is equipped using the latest technology and thus is able to perform much better than those which are not. They are fitted with compressors which work at very high speeds and that also run at very low capacities; as low as 25%. This ensures that on top of the air conditioning equipment being energy efficient, its performance is also top notch due to the high quality parts used to assemble it (Xia, 2005).
The energy efficient air conditioning equipment also have a longer life span and rarely break down. Due to the fact that they are highly efficient, they recycle air less frequently and hardly ever get overworked and hence, the effects of wear and tear are less frequently and so last for long periods of time before breaking down as stated by Xia (2005). There are also the reduced expenses of frequent repairs as they go for long in good condition. Due to their good performances, there is no need of replacing them every now and then.
Energy efficient air conditioning equipment also ensures that energy costs are significantly reduced. The higher the SEER rating, the higher the energy efficiency. The lower energy bills are brought about by the fact that the air conditioners use an energy system such that the machine cools down the outdoor air then blows it towards inside and the house or room and this reduction of a tubing system ensures that less energy is used up. This reduces energy consumption by 20-30% (Department of Energy, n.d).
Energy efficient air conditioners are fitted with an environmentally friendly refrigerant that is not harmful to the ozone layer. After 2010, manufacturing companies started using the R410a type of refrigerant that is not harmful to the environment (Department of Energy, n.d).
They also have the ability to humidify air in a better way due to the fact that they run continuously. This gives time for air to be evaporated for a longer period of time and thus increase the efficiency of humidifying the air.
There is uniformity in the temperature of the house or the room unlike due to the fact that the energy efficient air conditioners run continuously providing extra comfort to those in the house. The air that circulates in the house is just enough to provide a cooling effect that is at acceptable levels.
Replacing an old air conditioning unit that was consuming huge amounts of energy with an energy efficient one is bound to make an individual get rebates from the government as the government is encouraging the phasing out of energy inefficient electrical appliances.
Due to the fact that the new equipment use less energy to run, there are reduced greenhouse gas emissions and this goes a long way in preserving the environment.
The initial cost of buying a highly SEER rated air conditioner is quite high and the cost of doing so may be up to 30% higher than that of low SEER rated air conditioners. This is due to the fact that they are considered superior in the market in terms of performance and energy saving costs.
The energy efficient air conditioners are also much larger in size than those which are not and this poses difficulties especially during installation while one is also required a higher amount to those installing the new generation equipment (Xia, 2005).
The appearance of the air conditioning system is not as appealing as the size is much bigger than the conventional ones.
It is clear that air conditioners that are highly SEER rated are more energy efficient and are thus more expensive than those that are low rated. They also have more advantages in terms of energy conservation, quality of the equipment and environmental conservation and hence it is more advisable to install those air conditioners that are highly rated in terms of energy efficiency.
Daou, K and Wang, X. (2005). Desiccant cooling air conditioning: a review, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 2, 5577.
Department of Energy. Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioners. Retrieved from http://energy.gov/energysaver/ductless-mini-split-air-conditioners
Holladay, M. (2012). Window-Mounted Air Conditioners save Energy. Retrieved from http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/blogs/dept/musings/window-mounted-air-conditioners-save-energy
Needham, J. (1991). Science and Civilization in China. Physics and Physical Technology, Mechanical Engineering, 2 (7): 99-233.
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