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How Do Air Conditioners Cause Air Pollution?

Not only can air conditioners create pollution, but they also contribute to global warming, which is already a serious concern for our planet. It may seem impossible to give up using air conditioners at all, but there are a few ways we can try to minimize the risk. Here are three ways air conditioners cause air pollution and what to do to avoid it.


Toxic Refrigerants


The chemicals used for refrigerants have changed over time from CFC to HCFC to the current HFC. Those compounds have the potential to create greenhouse gas effects as they can trap up to thousands of times more heat than carbon dioxide. Although scientists keep discovering new chemicals to use that carry less greenhouse risk, the risk is still present.



Refrigerants work in a closed loop. That means the chemical compound should not be a problem if the AC unit works properly. However, refrigerants may leak, especially if you are not taking good enough care of your AC unit. Improper AC disposal may also cause the refrigerant to leak and pollute the atmosphere without anyone even realizing it.


What we can do about it:

● Buy an AC unit that uses one of the safest types of refrigerant, such as R-134A, R-407C, R-404A, or R-410A
● Take care of your AC properly to prevent refrigerant leakage
● If you no longer use the unit, make sure to dispose of it accordingly. You can hire a professional HVAC technician to take care of that for you.


Thermal Pollution


Air conditioners take the excess heat out of your indoor air to cool down your house. The problem is that excess heat is then released outside. Hence, the outdoor temperature will get warmer. The more air conditioners there are in the neighborhood, the warmer the local environment will be. This in turn only makes people more dependent on the use of air conditioners to make them feel comfortable. It’s a cycle.


What we can do about it:

● Optimize the natural ventilation of your house to minimize the need for artificial temperature control
● Plant more trees on your lawn to cool down the local environment
● Use a fan to help cool down the indoor air, so your AC doesn’t cause much thermal pollution


Fossil Fuel Emission


AC units need electricity to run. The problem is that a lot of electrical power comes from coal burning. Carbon emissions from coal-burning lead to greenhouse gas emissions. This long-lasting issue has been causing our planet to get warmer over time.


However, if your house relies on clean energy, you might not need to worry much about the carbon emission. Even so, it is advisable to check the carbon emissions and environmental effects of your energy source.


What we can do about it:

● Choose a more sustainable source of energy for your house
● Buy an AC unit that is energy-efficient
● Replace your AC unit if it is already old because older AC units are not energy-efficient
● Maintain your AC unit regularly to make sure it runs at optimum efficiency


It turns out that the consequences of using an air conditioner are bigger than just a higher bill at the end of the month. Hence, starting now, you should be more considerate about buying and using energy-efficient appliances.

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