We all wouldn’t mind saving a little energy. Residents are always seeking ways to use energy more efficiently with the intent of saving money on utilities and minimize their carbon footprint. But along the way, certain ideas have emerged about how people think they ought to use their air conditioner, versus how the air conditioner actually works. Here we examine and dispel five commonly held AC myths many users fall susceptible to so that you know the truth about your home’s heating and cooling!

Contrary to popular belief, air conditioners do not create, let in, or generate fresh air. Air conditioners are essentially appliances that refrigerate the air within a room.

Here’s a quick rundown on the inner workings of a conventional home AC unit: Air conditioners are equipped a special chemical compound called refrigerant, contained within a closed system of coils. Your AC forces this chemical compound to evaporate and condense into a gas within the system of coils. As this liquid compound converts into a gas, it becomes colder. The refrigerants convert from liquid back to gas in a continuous cycle through a compressor. Meanwhile, a fan located within the AC unit moves warm air from your room over the coils filled with cold refrigerant to chill the once warm air. This process of conversion generates heat, which is pushed outdoors by another set of condenser coils and a fan. While air conditioning may feel like new or fresh air is being produced in your room, in reality you are merely feeling refrigerated indoor air.

If that was confusing, this diagram might help:

The important thing to remember is that ACs do not generate new or fresh air as much as they refrigerate air that is already in the room or vehicle. If you want truly fresh air, look into placing screens over your windows so that you can open your windows at night when the air is cool. This will circulate daytime heat out of your home while preventing bugs from coming in.

With the exception of inverter ACs, conventional AC units can only turn the compressor ‘on’ or ‘off’. So whether you set your AC for 23C or 19C, your AC will not work any faster to reach one temperature over the other. A lower set temperature on your AC will eventually use more energy than a higher set temperature – and if you forget to re-adjust it, your AC will cool too much and run far less efficiently than it ought to. The smaller the difference between outdoor and indoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be.

If you want to conserve energy, try using a fan. Fans can be very effective in air circulation and ushering warm air out of the room. Instead of solely relying on your AC to provide circulation, turn on your floor fan or ceiling fan and use them direct warm air to your AC. The air motion over our skin helps to evaporate sweat and transport our body heat away from us, which can make us feel several degrees cooler.

With the aid of a fan you can raise your AC temperature by a few degrees and re-distribute cool air throughout your home. If you have blinds on your windows, close them during the day to block out sunlight and place houseplants in front of sunny windows. The plants will effectively absorb the sun’s energy which will increase the efficiency of your ACs and fans.

Air conditioners consume energy at a rate that is based on outdoor temperature and relative humidity. However, the way AC remotes are designed often cause us to fixate on the temperature and “Power” buttons alone when using other AC modes can be more effective in achieving an ideal indoor climate.

While indoors, sometimes it is more beneficial to turn the temperature of our AC up while engaging the “Dry Mode” – the AC function that is more energy efficient at extracting humidity from the room. Humans are very sensitive to humidity and respond to moisture-heavy environments by sweating. This enables us to maintain a comfortable body temperature.

However as the air gets more humid, it becomes harder for our sweat to evaporate, even below 100% relative humidity. Because of our bodies are produce more sweat when it is humid, we often feel much hotter than the actual temperature.

Using the “Dry Mode” will cause the fan in your AC to operate at a slower speed, resulting in a cooler evaporator coil that condenses water vapor as the AC blows out the dry air through the appliance. This mode won’t completely dehumidify your home but it will reduce moisture and it also uses less energy than the full “Power” or “Cool” mode.

As long as your AC turns on and circulates cool air within your home, it may be easy to forget that these appliances need routine maintenance. But even if your AC appears to be running smoothly, it’s important to remember that your cold air machine may need a good clean to run as efficiently as possible. The difference between a dirty filter and a clean one can be up to ~5% so make sure to not skip on regular maintenance checks!

Some users believe that it is more effective to leave your AC running all day at one temperature than to turn it on at the end of the day. Your AC consumes less power or energy when completely turned off, as opposed to operating all day – even at a higher temperature. So in reality, it is more efficient to turn your AC off when it is not needed, or when no one is home. It also runs more efficiently when it is operating at full speed for shorter periods of time than when it is maintaining a constant temperature all day.

Insulation is one of the most effective ways to improve your home’s efficiency. Installing insulated windows will seal your home from heat and humidity in summer months while keeping it warm in colder weather during winter months. Alternatively, investing in heavy drapes is another cost-effective and less laborious method of insulating your home.

We want to know: do you have other AC myths you’d like to address? How do you resourcefully deal with the heat? Let us know.

 

4 comments

    1. Hi Ian,

      While using economy mode will result in energy/money saving, since essentially it reduces your AC’s output power – it might mean the room will often feel slightly warmer. So, if you’re not a person that normally feels very hot, this might be a great way for you to save money!

      Like

  1. Thanks for helping me understand more about air conditioning units. I appreciate that this article mentions that ti’s still important to do maintenance checks on an AC system, and to clean it every now and them to make sure it’s running efficiently. Definitely sounds worthwhile to learn more about the different ways someone can clean their unit, and how periodically they should do so.

    Like

    1. Hi Taylor,

      We’re glad you found this post useful and educational – that’s our aim! AC cleaning methods is definitely something worth talking about, and we might whip up a short post about it. Thanks for the idea! Regarding how often you should clean your AC filters, around every 6 months, and maybe more often if your home is very dusty or when the AC is on for longer (such as summer).

      Like

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