Heating and cooling costs the average homeowner about $1,000 a year – nearly half the home’s total energy bill. If your central air conditioning is more than 12 years old, replacing it with an ENERGY STAR quality model could cut your cooling costs by 30%.
Ever wondered how air conditioners work? Contrary to the common misconception that they lower indoor temperatures by blowing cool air… They actually function by removing warm air from your home and circulating it back as cooler air. This cycle continues until your thermostat reaches the desired temperature. In essence, an air conditioner operates much like a refrigerator, without the insulated enclosure. It relies on the evaporation of a refrigerant such as Freon, to generate cooling. The Freon evaporation process is identical in both refrigerators and air conditioners. Understanding this cooling mechanism sheds light on the science behind comfortable indoor air temperatures.
Mixed in with the Freon is a small amount of lightweight oil. This oil lubricates the compressor. Air conditioners help clean your home’s air as well. Most indoor air conditioning units have filters that catch dust, pollen, mold spores and other allergens as well as smoke and everyday dirt found in the air. Most air conditioners also function as dehumidifiers. They take excess water from the air and use it to help cool the unit before getting rid of the water through a hose to the outside.
A split-system air conditioner splits the hot side from the cold side of the system. The cold side, consisting of the expansion valve and the cold coil is generally placed into a furnace or some other air handler. The air handler blows air through the coil and routes the air throughout the building using a series of ducts. The hot side of the split air system is known as the condensing unit which lives outside the building.
The air conditioner split-system unit consists of a long, spiral coil shaped like a cylinder. Inside the coil is a fan, to blow air through the coil, along with a weather-resistant compressor and some control logic. This approach has evolved over the years because it’s low-cost, and also because it normally results in reduced noise inside the house but at the expense of increased noise outside the house.