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

You may notice that your outdoor AC unit releases heat into the open air. So, is the hot air emitted 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. After that, however, the building will absorb some heat again, and the cycle will continue.

As long as the heat inside your building exceeds the heat outside, your AC will continue to work. That’s why it’s essential to keep your indoor temperature at a comfortable level – not too hot and not too cold. The ideal temperature range for an AC unit is between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius.

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 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. Yet, they were commonly used in many ACs until the Montreal Protocol phased them out in the developed world by 2010.

The most common refrigerant is a hydrofluorocarbon (HFC), which doesn’t damage the ozone layer. However, it’s a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. So while it’s an improvement over CFCs and HCFCs, it’s still not ideal. In addition, the EPA has classified HFCs as “extremely potent” greenhouse gases.

Another concern you need to pay attention to is the energy consumed. For example, 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. In addition, some air conditioners use much more electricity than others, so do your research and find an AC that won’t break the bank or damage the environment.

If you want to keep your home cool during those hot summer months, but you’re worried about the impact of your AC on the environment, consider these three factors before making a purchase. First, take a look at the unit’s energy efficiency rating. The higher the rating, the less energy it will consume. Second, check to see how much water the unit uses. 

Some air conditioners can increase the humidity in your home, which can be highly uncomfortable. Finally, pay attention to the noise level of the unit. You don’t want an AC that will keep you up all night with its loud humming.

What You Can Do

It seems too difficult to live entirely 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 energy efficiency and eco-friendliness standards.

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



ECM Air Conditioning, with its headquarters located in Boynton Beach, FL, provides air conditioning services within Palm Beach County, Broward County, Martin County, and St. Lucie County. If you’re looking to have a new HVAC system installed, we’re on-call and ready to assist you. So if you’re in need of an HVAC installation, don’t hesitate to contact us today to schedule an inspection! Our HVAC installation experts will check your ductwork, measure, check wire sizes, and more before making recommendations to ensure maximum efficiency and comfort. Call us at 561-295-1763 or contact our HVAC installation team online by clicking here.


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