The primary environmental impacts of AC units come from their power consumption and the ozone depletion and greenhouse effects of their refrigerants. Most air conditioning systems run on electricity that is typically supplied by coal-burning plants. As units work harder, they draw more power, which translates into increased carbon emissions.
The refrigerants used are mostly newer hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) types designed not to harm the ozone layer, though some older chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) coolant systems are still in use. Unfortunately, HFCs used to address ozone depletion created another problem because they contribute to the greenhouse effect.
The good news is there are some ways to minimize the power consumption and environmental exposure when you use your AC. Some simple maintenance steps could help you stay cool without all the guilt, so you can enjoy summer with a little less sweat.
Clear Some Space
The exterior condenser of your AC works much better when it is clean and the area around it is <ahref=”https://pge.opower.com/ei/app/tip/tip021_let_ac_breathe”>uncluttered. Trim back trees and shrubbery, and gather up leaves and other debris. If you’re willing to engage in a bit more work, you can also clean off the condenser coil and fins. To do this, you would need to cut power to the unit and wait at least 30 minutes to allow the capacitor to discharge, so it will be safe to remove the coil covers and gain access. Once inside, carefully use a brush or your fingers to remove material stuck in the fins. You could also use your garden hose.
Don’t Block the Air
Clean the indoor vents and air intake grill with a vacuum cleaner. Check that the return and vents have adequate clearance and move furniture, toys, blinds, curtains, and anything else that could impede air flow away from the ACs vents.
Any exposed ducting should be inspected for leaks. Leaking duct lines make the system work harder and should be sealed with properly rated, purpose-built duct tape. It’s also a good idea to insulate your ductwork with adequately thick material designed for the application.
Change or Clean Filters
This easy step is often overlooked. A clogged, dirty air-conditioning filter can choke off the flow of air at your AC’s intake, making the system struggle and increasing the energy it draws. Follow the instructions from your unit’s manufacturer and the maker of your filters. There are also permanent filters on the market that can be cleaned out and reused to cut waste.
Check for Leaks
Whether your system is old enough to still be using the ozone-depleting CFC refrigerants or the newer HFCs, leaks could be problematic for the environment.
Visually inspect your AC coolant lines for signs of leakage such as discolored or damaged insulation. Look for stains on the concrete and check the lines to make sure there aren’t any kinked or bent sections. If you find any of these signs, you will need to call a professional for immediate AC repair.
Staying Cool Doesn’t Have to Hurt
Taking steps to help your air conditioner run more efficiently can allow you to stay cool during the hot months without being horribly negligent in your environmental stewardship. Doing your part before you use your AC can translate into guilt-free comfort.
A Good Look At How Homes Will Become More Energy Efficient Soon
Everyone always talks about ways they can save energy at home, but the tactics are old school. They’re only tweaking the way they do things at the moment. Sealing holes in your home isn’t exactly the next scientific breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.
There is some good news because technology is progressing quickly. Some tactics might not be brand new, but they’re becoming more popular. Here are a few things you should expect to see in homes all around the country within a few years.
1. The Rise Of Smart Windows
When you look at a window right now it’s just a pane of glass. In the future they’ll be controlled by microprocessors and sensors. They’ll change depending on the specific weather conditions directly outside.
If the sun disappears the shade will automatically adjust to let in more light. The exact opposite will happen when it’s sunny. These energy efficient windows will save everyone a huge amount of money.
2. A Better Way To Cool Roofs
If you wanted to cool a roof down today you would coat it with a material full of specialized pigments. This would allow roofs to deflect the sun and they’d absorb less heat in the process too.
Soon we’ll see the same thing being done, but it will be four times more effective. Roofs will never get too hot again. Anyone with a large roof is going to see a sharp decrease in their energy bills.
3. Low-E Windows Taking Over
It’s a mystery why these aren’t already extremely popular, but things are starting to change. Read low-E window replacement reviews and you’ll see everyone loves them because they’re extremely effective.
They’ll keep heat outside in summer or inside in winter. People don’t even have to buy new windows to enjoy the technology. All they’ll need is a low-E film to place over their current ones.
4. Magnets Will Cool Fridges
Refrigerators haven’t changed much in a very long time. They’re still using a vapor compression process that wastes energy while harming the environment. It won’t be long until they’ll be cooled using magnets instead.
The magnetocaloric effect is going to revolutionize cold food storage. The fluid these fridges are going to use will be water-based, which means the environment can rest easy and energy bills will drop.
5. Improving Our Current LEDs
Everyone who spent a lot of money on energy must have been very happy when LEDs became mainstream. Incandescent light bulbs belong in museums today because the new tech cut costs by up to 85 percent.
That doesn’t mean someone isn’t always trying to improve on an already great invention. The amount of lumens LEDs produce per watt isn’t great, but we’ve already found a way to increase it by 25 percent.
Maybe Homes Will Look Different Too
Do you think we’ll come up with new styles of homes that will take off? Surely it’s not out of the question. Everything inside homes seems to be changing for the better with each passing year. It’s going to continue doing so thanks to amazing inventors.
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IEMA Urge Government’s Industrial Strategy Skills Overhaul To Adopt A “Long View Approach”
IEMA, in response to the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, have welcomed the focus on technical skills and education to boost “competence and capability” of tomorrow’s workforce.
Policy experts at the world’s leading professional association of Environment and Sustainability professionals has today welcomed Prime Minister Teresa May’s confirmation that an overhaul of technical education and skills will form a central part of the Plan for Britain – but warns the strategy must be one for the long term.
Martin Baxter, Chief Policy Advisor at IEMA said this morning that the approach and predicted investment in building a stronger technical skills portfolio to boost the UK’s productivity and economic resilience is positive, and presents an opportunity to drive the UK’s skills profile and commitment to sustainability outside of the EU.
Commenting on the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, Baxter said today:
“Government must use the Industrial Strategy as an opportunity to accelerate the UK’s transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient economy – one that is flexible and agile and which gives a progressive outlook for the UK’s future outside the EU.
We welcome the focus on skills and education, as it is vital that tomorrow’s workforce has the competence and capability to innovate and compete globally in high-value manufacturing and leading technology.
There is a real opportunity with the Industrial Strategy, and forthcoming 25 year Environment Plan and Carbon Emissions Reduction Plan, to set long-term economic and environmental outcomes which set the conditions to unlock investment, enhance natural capital and provide employment and export opportunities for UK business.
We will ensure that the Environment and Sustainability profession makes a positive contribution in responding to the Green Paper.”