Is the Hot Air Released by an AC Unit Harmful to the Environment?

You may notice that your outdoor AC unit releases heat to the open air. So, is the hot air released by an AC unit harmful to the environment?

Your AC works by taking the heat from your indoor air and releasing it outdoors. Hence, it is just a matter of heat movement. The heat itself is harmless because it will disperse right away. Some of the heat will be absorbed again by the building, and the cycle will go on again.

There is no need to worry that the heat will harm the environment. Even if you put the outdoor unit in your backyard, it will not ruin any of your plants as long as you keep it a reasonable distance away.

The Real Environmental Concern

Although the heat itself is safe, we can’t conclude that the whole AC system is completely harmless to the environment. There are several concerns about the technology that may impact the sustainability of our planet.

The concerning part about AC is the refrigerant. Many  substances can work as refrigerants. However, most of them carry threats to the Earth. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) can deplete the ozone layer. Hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) has a lower ozone risk, but it also carries the potential of greenhouse gas emissions. Nowadays, most manufacturers use hydrocarbon (HC), which is the most environmentally friendly option that we have today. But even that still poses climate risks.

Another concern you need to pay attention to is the amount of energy consumed. Your AC requires electricity to run. This might not be a problem if your electricity comes from a sustainable source like a solar panel or windmill. However, most electricity in this world still heavily relies on coal burning, which is highly polluting.

What You Can Do

It seems too difficult to live completely without AC. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to reduce the negative impacts of your AC on the environment. Here are some of those:

  1. If possible, switch to renewable energy sources.
  2. Choose an AC unit with high energy efficiency. You can check out the SEER rating or look for an Energy Star label to easily spot one.
  3. Make sure your AC unit is the right size to avoid wasting energy.
  4. Install a programmable thermostat to make sure your AC runs only as needed.
  5. Perform regular maintenance to keep your AC energy-efficient.
  6. Optimize the windows and insulation of your house to lower the load of your AC unit.
  7. Turn on a ceiling fan to create airflow, which can make your indoor air seem cooler.
  8. Replace your AC unit if it has been working for 10 years or more in your house. A unit this old doesn’t meet modern standards of energy efficiency and eco-friendliness.

With the climate crisis on the rise, it is wise to have concerns about the impact of air conditioners on our Earth. The heat transferred out of your house is safe, but there are some other concerns you need to pay attention to.

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