An air conditioner is a device that provides cool air inside your home or enclosed space by removing heat and humidity from the indoor air. It returns cold air to the indoor space and transfers unwanted heat and humidity to the outside. An air conditioner cools your home with a cold indoor coil called an evaporator. The condenser, a warm outdoor coil, releases the heat accumulated outside.
The coils of the evaporator and condenser are serpentine tubes surrounded by aluminum fins. This tube is usually made of copper.
Air conditionersdehumidify air to improve comfort. However, in extremely humid climates, when outdoor temperatures are moderate or in cases where the air conditioner is too large, the air may not reach a humidity low enough to achieve a comfortable level.
In such cases, homeowners can lower the thermostat setting or use a dehumidifier. But in both cases this will increase energy consumption, both for the dehumidifier itself and because the air conditioner will require more energy to cool the house. If you have a central air system in your home, set the fan to automatic mode. In other words, do not use the central fan of the system to provide air circulation; use circulating fans in individual rooms.
A central air conditioner is a split-system unit or a packaged unit. In a split-system central air conditioner, an outdoor cabinet contains the outdoor heat exchanger, fan, and compressor, and an indoor cabinet contains the indoor heat exchanger and blower. In many split-system air conditioners, the indoor cabinet may contain an oven or the indoor heat exchanger of a heat pump. If your home already has an oven but you don't have air conditioning, a split system may be the most economical central air conditioner to install.
In a compact central air conditioner, heat exchangers, compressor, fan and blower are located in a cabinet, which is usually placed on a roof or on a concrete slab next to the foundation of the house. This type of air conditioner is also used in small commercial buildings. The supply and return ducts come from the inside through the exterior wall or ceiling of the house to connect to the packaged air conditioner. Packaged air conditioners often include electric heating coils or a natural gas oven.
This combination of air conditioning and central heating eliminates the need for a separate oven. If your air conditioner is installed correctly, or if major installation problems are found and fixed, it should operate efficiently for years with only minimal routine maintenance. However, many air conditioners are not installed properly. As an unfortunate result, modern energy-saving air conditioners can work almost as badly as older inefficient models.
Central air conditioners are more efficient than room air conditioners. In addition, they are out of the way, are quiet and comfortable to operate. To save energy and money, you should try to buy an energy-efficient air conditioner and reduce the energy consumption of the central air conditioner. In a medium-sized home, air conditioning consumes more than 2,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, causing power plants to emit around 3,500 pounds of carbon dioxide and 31 pounds of sulfur dioxide.
If you are considering adding central air conditioning to your home, the deciding factor may be the need for ductwork. The most efficient air conditioners use 30-50% less energy to produce the same amount of refrigeration as air conditioners manufactured in the mid-1970s. Even if your air conditioner is only 10 years old, you can save 20-40% of your cooling energy costs by replacing it with a newer, more efficient model. Proper sizing and installation are key elements in determining air conditioning efficiency.
A unit that is too large will not properly remove moisture. A unit that is too small will not be able to reach a comfortable temperature on the hottest days. Improper location of the unit, lack of insulation and improper installation of ducts can significantly decrease efficiency. Standards do not require you to change your existing central air conditioning units, and replacement parts and services must continue to be available for your home systems.
The service life of a central air conditioner is 15 to 20 years. Generally, manufacturers continue to support existing equipment through availability of spare parts and compliance with maintenance contracts after entry into force. The function of an air conditioner in your home is to move heat from inside the house to the outside, cooling you and your home. Air conditioners blow cold air into your home by extracting heat from that air.
The air is cooled by blowing it over a set of cold pipes called an evaporator coil. This works just like the cooling that occurs when water evaporates from the skin. The evaporator coil is filled with a special liquid called a refrigerant which changes from liquid to gas as it absorbs heat from the air. The coolant is pumped out of the house to another coil where it gives up its heat and becomes liquid again.
This outdoor coil is called a condenser because the refrigerant condenses from a gas back into a fluid just like moisture in a cold window. A pump called a compressor is used to move the coolant between two coils and to change pressure of refrigerant so that all refrigerant evaporates or condenses in appropriate coils.