5 Alternatives to Central Air Conditioning
For many years, the majority of homes have been cooled using central air conditioning. Making use of a large outdoor condenser and an indoor evaporator, central air conditioning pumps cooled air throughout a system of ducts and vents.
It’s a tried-and-true method and one that has successfully cooled many homes for decades, but it’s not without its flaws. The primary problem, a particular concern for modern homeowners, is the energy costs. Central air conditioning is incredibly expensive to run, as a direct result of the fact that it’s not especially efficient. A good deal of energy is wasted in the effort to cool down a home.
It’s for this reason that many homeowners have begun to search for alternatives to air conditioning methods that aren’t a drain on their energy consumption and their finances. Here are five of our favorite alternatives to central air conditioning:
1. Cooling Fans
One very simple method of cooling a home somewhat without using a lot of energy is through the use of cooling fans. The great advantage of a fan is that it can be hooked up essentially anywhere, as long as there’s an outlet to plug it into. By increasing the circulation of air in a room, they’ll make it feel more comfortable almost immediately.
A cooling fan, however, does not actually cool the air itself down. As a result, its benefits may be minimal on very hot days. When it’s too hot and a fan is not effective, you’ll need to search for one of the other alternatives to air conditioning listed below.
2. Mini-Split Air Conditioners
Mini-split air conditioners, also known as ductless air conditioners, are a great alternative method of cooling the home, particularly for buildings that don’t have a system of ductwork already in place. Much like with a traditional central air conditioning unit, a mini-split air conditioner requires a condenser that is kept outside. This condenser is connected by a small tube to the evaporator, which is installed indoors, usually high up on a wall somewhere. In effect, this makes it a miniature version of a central air conditioner, with the difference being that the air that has been cooled is pumped directly into the room without having to make its way through a system of ducts first.
Because they don’t make use of ducts to cool the home, the evaporator can only cool the area, or zone, of the home that it’s in. This is actually an advantage, however. Part of the reason that central air conditioning is so expensive is that it always cools down the entire home, including rooms that aren’t currently occupied. A mini-split air conditioner doesn’t waste energy cooling a zone that doesn’t have anyone in it. And if you want to cool more than one area of the house, it’s as simple as installing another evaporator.
The only real disadvantage to this method of cooling is its cost. It can be fairly expensive to install a mini-split air conditioner, although you may recoup that cost later through savings on your energy bill.
3. Window Air Conditioners
A window air conditioner is an alternative to air conditioning that is perfect for a single room. It’s essentially a compact version of a central air conditioning unit that is installed outside of a window. The window is shut, and a seal is created. Then the air is drawn into the unit and cooled by way of the outdoor condenser. It’s then released outside while it also works to pump cool air back into the room.
While a window air conditioner might be a great fit for you, depending on your circumstances, it also tends to be somewhat limited in what it can accomplish. You cannot install one if you can’t easily vent the heat energy outside. In addition, if you don’t have a way to easily set the condenser up outside the window, this method of cooling may not be practical. There’s also the fact that this method is designed to cool only one room at a time. For cooling an entire home or other building, you will likely need to opt for a different or multiple methods.
4. Portable Air Conditioners
This method is very similar to a window air conditioner but may be more practical if you don’t have a way to effectively install the condenser outside the window. A portable air conditioner has a condenser that is actually kept inside the home. The heat energy is then vented outside the home through an exhaust tube, which is fed through a window. Some homes and apartments are even equipped with AC ports just for this purpose.
Portable air conditioners have the particular benefit of being able to be relocated to different zones of the home; you simply unplug them and wheel them into the next room. Their greatest disadvantage is the fact that they aren’t especially energy efficient. They tend to use a lot of electricity to cool a room, more than a window air conditioner does. Nevertheless, they may still be a less expensive option than an entire central air conditioning system if you only want to cool down a particular area or you rent.
5. Heat Pumps
Heat pumps are perhaps the most energy-efficient methods of cooling on this list. They also have the great benefit of dually functioning as a heating system during the winter months. They generally only need a small amount of electricity to work because they utilize a small compressor to draw indoor air over a refrigerant coil. This coil absorbs the heat in the air and then dissipates that heat energy outside the home.
When you wish to reverse the process, the heat pump can actually draw ambient heat energy from outside the home and release it inside, functioning as an effective heater and saving you a great deal of energy during the wintertime. No combustion is required, just a small amount of electricity.
If any of these alternatives to air conditioning interest you, contact a company like Entek HVAC and ask them about their options for installation. With their help, you may soon be able to save a great deal on your energy bill, as well as maintenance and repair costs.