Air Conditioning is a regular part of most homes for much of the United States. The systems provide cooling and humidity reduction during the hot summer months when indoor environments become unpleasantly hot and humid. Major advances have been made in recent years to improve the energy efficiency and environmental friendliness of these units. That energy efficiency can be proven by the Energy Star logo on the unit, that proves it passed the efficiency tests set by the United States government. If you have an old cooling system, upgrading to one of these newer, more efficient units would be a great idea. It would save you a significant amount of money on operating costs, provide a greater comfort level inside the house, and be better for the environment at the same time.
There are a few different types of cooling systems you can install in your home:
- Central Air Conditioners
- Room Air Conditioners
- Air Source Heat Pumps
- Ground Source Heat Pumps
Central Air Conditioners
Central Air Conditioners are exactly what they sound like – a central source for cooling your home. There are a few different varieties of these centralized systems, but the most common one that you see is the split-system unit. The split system contains both indoor and outdoor parts. The large outdoor condensing unit is the main part that is seen, and functions as the heat exchanger with the outdoors. It is connected by refrigerant lines to the indoor unit, which is attached to the main home duct work. The indoor unit sucks out the warm temperatures from the returning ventilation air, and sends the heat through the refrigerant lines to the outdoor unit. The outdoor unit then disperses the heat to its large coil, which gives it off to the outdoor air. Once the refrigerant loses its heat, it is returned back to the indoor unit, and the cycle repeats itself.
A central air conditioning unit can be a great addition to any home or building. It will increase the usability of the home, comfort levels, and the overall value of the home. Many people swear by these systems to survive summer in some of the warmer regions of the US. you can learn more about central air conditioners at:
Room Air Conditioners
Room air conditioners are also just what they sound like – individual units that are placed in and meant to cool the immediate room, and maybe one or two surrounding. They are cheap and easy to install, and can provide a comfortable environment for less installation cost and effort than a traditional central system. They can be installed in a variety of ways, such as in windows, through walls, or in the form of portable units. They do not add nearly the value to a home that a central air conditioning system would, but can provide greater comfort for a room in a snap.
Air Source Heat Pumps
Heat Pumps (Air Source) can be a great way to save money on your year-round heating and cooling bills, and consolidate heating and cooling to one unit. Air source heat pumps are outdoor units that can run in the summer at function like a traditional central air conditioner, as well as winter, and provide heat for the home. It utilizes a refrigerant cycle to efficiently deliver heating and cooling at a reduced cost of traditional systems. Depending on your existing heating and cooling systems, an air-source heat pump can save you anywhere from 20-60% on both heating and cooling.
Air Source Heat Pumps do have a few limitations though, as they don’t run very efficiently in very warm weather. If it is really hot outside (over 95 degrees), they have to work extremely hard to push heat into the already hot outdoor air. You will have to talk with a licensed professional to see if an air source heat pump would make sense in your climate.
Ground Source Heat Pumps
Ground Source Heat Pumps (Geothermal Heat Pumps) function very similarly to air source heat pumps, except instead of an outdoor air unit, the geothermal heat pump relies on a large loop or piping or open source system buried under the ground. The system uses the natural heat storage characteristics and constant 45-55 degree temperatures of the earth to moderate its temperature through the year. A geothermal heat pump can also heat and cool all year around at extremely high efficiencies greater than 100% (about 200-400%). They can operate this efficiently because they output multiple times the energy (in heat form), as they take in (in the form of electricity). Initial installations are significantly more expensive than traditional systems, but they usually pay themselves off and save you money in the long run, sometimes in as little as 2-4 years.