If you think about it, the mere act of powering up a room’s AC unit consumes energy. So does this mean that air conditioning contributes to air pollution? Well, not exactly. The answer is both yes and no.
Almost all of today’s AC manufacturers have gone green with their products by incorporating resource-friendly systems in their new models. Furthermore, Energy Star-certified AC systems are now widely available to consumers. These unique AC units consume up to 50% less energy than traditional models while providing the same cooling effect.
But what if you have an older model? Many people still use older appliances and may not want to shell out the cash for a new AC unit if it isn’t necessary. So, if your AC is older, is it causing more pollution than one of the newer models? The short answer to this question is yes. Here is how air conditioning causes pollution.
1. Energy Consumption
ACs require a considerable amount of energy to function. The energy that they consume is the first and most apparent way that AC units contribute to air pollution. Older refrigerant systems are much less efficient than newer models. This means that older AC units can consume more electricity than new ones, which in turn means higher energy bills.
Since older models use more energy to run, they tend to contribute more to air pollution. When fossil fuel is burned, it transforms into greenhouse gases, contributing to global warming and the greenhouse effect. This is why replacing old appliances with more efficient models is so important.
2. CFCs and HFCs
Chlorofluorocarbons were once widely used as refrigerants in AC units. However, they were banned because CFCs contribute to ozone depletion. With the discovery of hydrofluorocarbons, old models with CFCs were quickly phased out. HFCs are still a much cleaner alternative, so buying new models is always best.
Old systems, however, may still contain CFCs. If you want to replace your AC system, make sure that you inquire about the refrigerant of your new model. Chlorofluorocarbons like Freon have been known to drift upwards to the stratosphere, where they are destroyed by UV light and release chlorine atoms. The chlorine then reacts with trace amounts of ozone to produce chlorine monoxide, which breaks down ozone.
3. Unclean Ducts
Over time, your AC ducts can get messy and dirty, causing indoor air pollution. The growth of mold and mildew can irritate your respiratory system and, even worse, lead to infection even if you can’t see the dirt.
Some people also report adverse health effects after living with an older AC unit in their home. These complaints include headaches, sore throats, irritated sinuses, and runny noses. If you notice dirt and dust in your home’s ductwork, then it’s time to clean the unit. This will not only extend the life of your AC, but it will help keep indoor air pollution to a minimum.
4. Dirty Filters
Like your air ducts, filters can also become dirty over time. A dirty filter can compromise your unit’s performance and contribute to indoor air pollution. If your AC is not cooling properly, consider cleaning the filter to help improve efficiency and reduce pollution.
Filters are standard in just about any appliance. They are meant to keep the air inside your home cleaner and healthier. Dirty or old filters can inhibit airflow out of your unit, so cleaning them regularly is essential. This will help keep indoor air pollution to a minimum.
Additionally, dirty filters make your AC unit work harder to cool the same space. This not only runs up your electricity bills, but more fossil fuels are being used to power your unit, so dirty filters also contribute to outdoor air pollution.
5. Materials Used in AC Units
Over the years, manufacturers opted for plastic rather than metal. The production of plastic is much cheaper than the production of metals, which results in lower costs for customers. However, plastic is non-biodegradable, and its production releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, leading to the greenhouse effect.
Proper disposal of air conditioning systems is also essential. You must dispose of your old air conditioning systems to avoid pollution. Check with your local government for the correct AC unit disposal procedure as this varies from place to place. It’s important to recycle and reuse plastic components to avoid pollution. Fortunately, if you’re purchasing a new or refurbished unit from a licensed professional, they will usually take care of hauling away and recycling your old unit.
Maintaining your system regularly will make it run more efficiently and properly, thus reducing your power consumption and helping keep the air clean. If you’re looking to purchase a new AC unit, it’s best to shop around for a new one based on its Energy Star rating. We at My Guy Heating & Air will help you install and maintain your system. We offer heating and air conditioning services to our neighbors in Firestone, Mead, and all of northern Colorado. Contact My Guy Heating & Air today for more information.