When the hot summer months arrive, millions of homeowners start running their air conditioners more often. This leaves many to wonder just how bad is running the air conditioner for the environment. Does it cause air pollution? The answer to this question may shock you.

Do Air Conditioners Cause Air Pollution?

Like any electronic device, air conditioners require power to operate. This means that energy has to be produced to run your air conditioner. However, determining just how much pollution is released every time you run your AC is difficult. That’s because a number of factors have to be taken into account.

For example, in addition to your AC unit requiring energy to run, its age and condition will determine how much power it consumes. Newer units require much less energy to operate than older models. As a result, the newer your unit is, the less pollution that it will produce.

Also, you have to determine where your home gets energy. Does it come from renewable resources, such as solar panels or wind turbines? If that’s the case, the energy that your air conditioning unit uses to function creates very little air pollution.

Hydrofluorocarbon Refrigerants

Let’s take a minute to discuss hydrofluorocarbon refrigerants. HFC refrigerants are still the most commonly used chemicals that give AC units their cooling power. You’ve probably heard that they’re bad for the environment, and that’s correct. However, the HFC refrigerants that newer AC units use aren’t like the ones that older AC systems use.

Older AC units rely on R-22 refrigerants. This is bad for the environment because these refrigerants directly contribute to the depletion of the Earth’s ozone layer. Instead of using R-22, newer units use R-407C, R-410A, or R-134a. While these three refrigerants differ slightly, the main thing to know is that they don’t directly contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer.

As of 2010, R-22 has been discontinued. If your air conditioner is newer than 2010, it shouldn’t use R-22. If your unit is old enough to still use R-22, it’s due for an upgrade. In fact, as of 2020, the use of R-22 is limited to stockpile quantities only. This means that the remaining R-22 in the world will be all used up soon.

The Future of AC Air Pollution

Reducing the impact of air conditioners on the environment is only getting better. In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued its ruling on HFC refrigerants in 2021.

The ruling says that U.S. consumption and production of HFC refrigerants are to be phased down. The goal is to lower the use of these refrigerants in the country by 85% over the next 15 years. Thus, the AC units of tomorrow will have less impact on the environment.

How to Lower Your AC’s Impact on the Environment

You want to do what’s right for the environment, but you also want to make sure that you aren’t miserable this summer. Thankfully, there are a few things that you can do to continue using your air conditioning unit while limiting your impact on the environment.

Hire an HVAC professional to inspect your AC system twice a year. Such an expert can make sure that it’s running properly. When your AC unit is in proper shape, it can cool your house more efficiently, which means that it will run less and consume less energy. If any problems pop up during the inspection, they can be fixed right away.

If you have an old AC unit, consider upgrading to a newer model. Manufacturers are always improving the energy efficiency of their AC units. If your system is more than 10 years old, you could easily lower your energy bill and your impact on the environment by upgrading to a newer model.

Consider upgrading your home’s thermostat to a smart thermostat. The great thing about this technology is that you can program it to turn your cooling system off and on strategically. Thus, you can limit the amount of time that your AC system runs when you’re away. By doing this, you ensure that your home is cool only when you’re there.

Let Us Help Keep Your Air Conditioner in Tiptop Shape

Now that you know the importance of keeping your air conditioner running smoothly, don’t wait to get a professional tune-up. At Northwest HVAC Heating & Cooling, we pride ourselves on offering air conditioning and heating repair and maintenance services that homeowners in Vancouver, Washington and the surrounding area can count on. We also work on ductless heat pumps. Contact Northwest HVAC Heating & Cooling today to learn more about our AC repair services or to set up an appointment.

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