Air ConditioningAir conditioning is rapidly moving from the realm of luxury to an expectation in many of today's homes and vehicles. Air conditioning, where heat and humidity are removed from the air to provide a greater level of comfort, has long been available in commercial buildings, shopping centres, and airports. But more and more homes are being built with air conditioning as an integral part of the structure.
Air conditioning, or 'aircon', works by circulating a liquid through coils to help cool the air. This can be done on a small scale, as in a car, or in much larger areas, such as inside shopping malls. Originally, the liquid used was very flammable. Ammonia and propane were some of the first gasses used, with a switch to Freon in the 1930's.
However, where ammonia and propane were explosively dangerous, Freon was later determined to cause great harm to the Earth's ozone layer. A new refrigerant, brand-named Puron, was created to replace Freon, and it promises much less environmental impact. Research is also being conducted on naturally-occurring refrigerant possibilities, including variations on CO2..
For most of these refrigerants, air conditioning compresses the gas, and sends the compressed gas through a series of coils. As the compressed gas runs through the coils, it expands and turns to a cool liquid. Air conditioners, refrigerators and freezers all have compressors, which is the part you generally hear running from time to time within the appliance.
Further along in the coils the refrigerant evaporates and turns to gas again, but at a very low temperature. It now passes through more coils, where it picks up heat from the surrounding air, cooling it. By the time the gas has warmed to room temperature it's back at the compressor, where the cycle begins again.
One of the most inexpensive ways to add air conditioning to your home or office is to use a window-mounted unit. Small (but heavy), these units come in varying sizes to cool areas from a single bedroom to an entire home.
Air conditioning units are notorious for their power consumption. The rising cost of power has pushed manufacturers to devise units that are much more efficient than in the past. Geo-thermal units are becoming popular because of their energy efficiency as well as environmental sensitivity. They produce much less pollution and require less energy to maintain, because they use the constant temperature of the earth at a specific level to help create heat.
Using ceiling fans in conjunction with air conditioning units is another way to increase the efficiency of your unit and lower costs. The fan helps circulate the cooled air, spreading the effect over a larger area than the air conditioning can do on its own. Also, setting the temperature to a degree or two higher will save energy and thus, money.
Most air conditioning units benefit from a yearly "check up" by a qualified repair person. He or she can clean the condenser coils, check the belts and oil moving parts, check operating pressures and ensure that the coolant level is adequate for your needs. The technician will also check for things such as frayed plugs or wires that could pose a safety hazard.
Properly installed and serviced, an air conditioning unit can provide years of comfort for you and your family or enhance your workplace environment.