Will Running My Air Conditioner Cause Air Pollution?

June 20, 2022
Environmental Health in Deptford Township, NJ

As the hot summer season rolls back around, many homeowners will rely on their air conditioning systems to keep their families comfortable throughout the entire season. You may have noticed that at the start of every summer, environmentalists will put out warnings about how air conditioning can be harmful to the environment. This can have you asking the question of whether or not your cooling system causes air pollution that is harmful to the environment.

Understanding Refrigerant Gases

Every air conditioning system relies on a substance known as refrigerant. This substance gets circulated through a closed-loop system that is responsible for transferring heat from inside a building to the outside. Unfortunately, over time, the copper piping on your air conditioner can develop holes that allow this refrigerant to seep out.

Many older-style air conditioners will have CFC as a component of their refrigerant. When CFC is exposed to the air, it emits carbon dioxide, which is a well-known contributor to the depletion of the ozone layer. While all HVAC manufacturers in the United States are no longer allowed to produce air conditioners that use CFC refrigerant, the newer style HFC refrigerant is not proving to be much better. In fact, when HFC refrigerant leaks into the air, it actually traps heat in the lower atmosphere of the Earth. This causes the Earth to warm up and changes our climate and weather conditions.

Greenhouse Gases From Fossil Fuels

Another way that air conditioning can contribute to negative pollution of the environment is through the burning of fossil fuels. Most people rely on electricity to power their home air conditioning system. Much of that electricity that is produced is done so by burning fossil fuels. These fossil fuels will emit greenhouse gases that pollute the environment and deplete the ozone layer. While air conditioning systems are not the only ones, they are a notable contributor to ozone depletion from fossil fuel burning.

Indoor Air Pollution

Apart from the electricity that powers your AC unit and the refrigerant that is used inside of it, there is one other way that your cooling system can contribute to pollution. More specifically, we are referring to indoor air pollution.

When your air conditioning system kicks on, it is circulating air throughout all the rooms of your house. This allows unwanted airborne pollutants like dust, pet dander, and other debris to circulate throughout your home and reduce your indoor air quality. While there is a filter on your HVAC system, it needs to be replaced on a regular basis to remain effective. Additionally, not all filters will work to remove all types of airborne particles from the air inside of your residence.

Ways to Reduce Pollution Caused by Air Conditioning

Probably the most significant way that you can work to reduce pollution from your air conditioning system is to stay current on replacing your air filter and ensuring that it is of the highest quality. All air filters come with MERV ratings that show the efficiency of the filter. The higher the MERV rating, the more efficient the filter is at removing unwanted particles from the air inside of your house.

Another great way to reduce the amount of pollution that your air conditioner causes is to use an alternative source of energy. Instead of relying on electricity that burns fossil fuels, consider an alternative source such as solar or wind power. Many homeowners are currently investing in solar panels that help to create enough energy to power their entire houses, including their air conditioning systems.

One of the best ways to help reduce the amount of pollution that your cooling system causes is to simply run it less often. There are many different practices you can undertake at your home to reduce the running time of your AC unit. One of the most popular is installing a programmable thermostat. Some other options include beefing up your insulation, using ceiling fans, upgrading your windows, sealing ducts, and better sealing up any air leaks around the doors and windows of your house.

Expert AC Services

JAMCO Heating & Air Conditioning provides expert AC services for the whole Deptford, NJ community. We can also help with all of your heating, commercial, ductless mini-split, and sheet metal needs. Contact our office today to set up your next service appointment with one of our experienced service technicians!

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