This is a complicated question. Your air conditioner is powered by hydrofluorocarbons or HFCs. Industry experts of almost 200 countries collaborated on a new environmental agreement in 2016 which aimed to regulate the use of HFCs.
The good news is that if your air conditioner is working, it won’t release HFCs into the atmosphere. Some may be released on manufacturing, if your air conditioner is malfunctioning or leaking, or when you throw a unit away. If you dispose of your portable AC properly, you should not release significant HFCs into the atmosphere.
Good news, right?
Thanks to an increase of greenhouse gases, in the last 16 years, air conditioners have become more common, especially in southern climates. More air conditioners sold means more air conditioners manufactured, which means more HFCs in the atmosphere.
And there’s a lot more to consider, too. Central air options tend to be the most energy efficient of all the air conditioning options, but all air conditioning units, all the way down to the little portable AC units take up energy, which is also released into the air as heat. Not only will it harm the environment, but it also has an impact on your wallet. Almost $30 billion is spent in the US alone on air conditioning costs!
There is some hope. Switching to central air can actually help with your CO2 emissions, and help you cut costs. Window units are great in the short term if you have a smaller space to cool down. But the long-term costs, and dangers to the environment if you have a leak, make them expensive in more ways than one.
A window unit might look less expensive short term, it can use between 500 to 1440 watts. That’s technically less than the average 3,000 watts needed for your central air, but the central air has a few things working for it.
First, it’s powerful enough to cool the whole house, instead of just one room, like a smaller A.C unit. Since it’s connected to your internal wiring, it also takes less energy to start up and power down. It can even be set on a timer, so you never have the air conditioner running when you don’t need it.
Your air conditioner puts you in a terrible catch-22 with the environment. The more you use it, the more you contribute to global warming, and as global warming continues to raise temperatures, especially in southern areas, air conditioning is the only way to live comfortably and safely.
Humidity during a heat wave can cause serious health problems, especially to young children, people with breathing difficulties, or asthma, and the elderly. There are ways to protect the environment, and save money on cooling your home safely and effectively.
To help your family make the right choice about air conditioning, check out these ten facts you might not know about your air conditioning unit!