If you've ever lived through a summer of North American humidity, then you know how unbearable the heat can be, especially if your home lacks central air conditioning. Thankfully, there are a number of alternative home cooling methods available.
Home cooling starts with your windows. Window tinting, awnings and planting trees and shrubbery for shade are all economical ways to stay cool during the summer months.
Another way to remain cool and pollen-free in the summer is with window ventilators. These resemble metal ducts, and they sit in a window sucking refreshing air into a room while built-in baffles keep dust, pollen, dirt, smoke and insects outside.
Powered by an electric motor, the rotating blades of a ceiling or portable fan work by circulating the air in the room, thus creating a breeze that cools the skin. Ceiling fans do not actually cool the air; they simply help us to feel cooler.
Air coolers, popularly known as swamp coolers, can lower the temperature by up to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. These portable systems cool a small area for a fraction of the cost of running an air conditioner. Plus, air coolers are environmentally friendly because they use evaporative cooling technology which cools the air without using ozone-depleting CFCs like air conditioners.
Window, or room, air conditioners have two parts: a condenser that sits outside the window and an evaporator that sits inside the room. The evaporator absorbs heat in the room. The heat is then transferred to the condenser, which releases it outside. Be sure to use an air conditioner that is rated for the size for your room. An air conditioner that is too big or too small will not function properly.
Mini-split, or ductless, air conditioners cool the whole house without having to install ductwork. Several separate indoor units are connected to one outdoor compressor / condenser. They are a great solution for upgrading an older home. In addition, they allow you to control the temperature of each room independently, rather than having one central thermostat.
Central air conditioners dehumidify, filter and cool air, which is distributed throughout an entire house via its ductwork. When it comes to measuring the power of central air units, many are most focused on size, which is measured in BTUs or British Thermal Units. This refers to the amount of heat removed from the air per hour. However, consumers should be more concerned about an AC unit's Energy Efficiency Ratio (or EER). Although EER units cost more up front, homeowners reap the savings on their energy bills.
The best way to approach home cooling is to evaluate your needs and carefully select the method that will require the least energy to maintain. For example, if you have a large house but find that you spend most of your time in only one or two rooms, central air conditioning might not be your best option because the unit will work to keep the entire home at the same temperature, wasting energy and money. Ceiling fans might provide more accurate and efficient cooling solutions in this case.