A homeowner’s guide to cooling
As temperatures soar during the summer, it’s safe to say that the air conditioning unit becomes the most vital system in the home. The ability to keep our homes at a comfortable temperature is a luxury that most of us can’t live without. This is especially the case for those of us who live in areas that are warm year-round or experience long summers.
While you might be aware of the importance of air conditioning in your home, you’re probably not familiar with the nuts and bolts of how your cooling system works and the steps you need to take to ensure a consistent cool temperature in your home. This article will address these points and provide you with an in-depth look at the major home cooling systems used today.
Common home cooling systems explained
There are several types of residential cooling systems. These systems vary widely in terms of complexity and intended use. Here are the most common ones you’ll find in modern homes.
Central air conditioners
This is the most common type of home cooling system. As the name suggests, central air conditioners regulate the temperature in the entire home rather than just one area of the house. The cooling system employs a chemical called refrigerant and is made up of a large compressor, evaporator coil, condenser coil and expansion valve.
These components work in tandem to generate cool air and circulate it throughout the home via air ducts. First, the compressor raises the pressure of the vapor refrigerant so that it can flow to the condenser coil. The refrigerant is then converted to a liquid and sent to an evaporator coil where it evaporates, cooling the indoor coil. Indoor air is then blown through the cold coil, whereas the compressor sends the heat inside the house outside.
There are many benefits to using a central air conditioning system. The primary one is the system’s ability to provide consistent temperatures across every part of your home without requiring a separate cooling unit in each room. Moreover, central air conditioners boast an internal air filtration system that ensures the air circulating in your home is high quality.
Despite the convenience that central air conditioners offer, it’s important to keep in mind that there are drawbacks to using this cooling system. Pushing air to every part of your home requires high energy use, which will be reflected in your monthly utility bill. Additionally, the system requires regular maintenance and cleaning to prevent buildup in the air ducts.
Room A/C units
This system consists of separate A/C units for different rooms in your home. Room air conditioners are generally mounted in windows or through the wall. The outdoor unit that contains the fan, condenser coil, and compressor is typically mounted on the other side of the wall. While they employ a similar cooling mechanism as central air conditioning systems, room A/C units are more compact in size and designed to cool a single room rather than the entire living space.
These units can be an ideal cooling solution if you only need to regulate the temperature in one or two rooms in your home. Installing a room A/C system might also be the only option if you’re renting a single room.
The main advantage of opting for room A/C units is that they are highly cost-effective. Not only are they more energy-efficient than central units, but they are also more affordable and cheaper to install. With that said, room A/C units do come with some drawbacks. First, the outdoor unit might look out of place when mounted outside of your home. The second drawback is that water might end up draining in an inconvenient location.
Evaporative coolers (swamp coolers)
Unlike the cooling systems discussed above, evaporative coolers don’t utilize refrigerant compression to generate cool air. Instead, they draw fresh outside air via a fan and cool it through an evaporation process that uses a set of moist pads. Since these cooling systems work by adding moisture to the air through evaporation, they are mainly effective in dry climates.
An important factor that you should take into consideration when exploring this option is the capacity of the unit. As a matter of fact, the size and capacity of the unit directly correlate with its ability to circulate air effectively in your home.
As a rule of thumb, for an evaporative cooler to be effective, its capacity in cubic feet per minute (CFM) should be half the area that needs to be cooled in cubic feet. For example, a 1,600-square-foot home with 8-feet high ceilings has 12,8000 cubic feet of area that needs to be cooled. To accomplish that, you’re going to need an evaporative cooler with a capacity of (12,800/2) 6,400 CFM.
There are many pros to relying on an evaporative cooling system to cool your home. These units have higher energy efficiency, are environmentally friendly and their installation doesn’t require any ductwork. On the other hand, these units don’t allow for the same level of temperature control that an air conditioner offers you and are highly ineffective in a humid climate.
This cooling system involves installing a large fan in the attic with the aim of circulating cool air in your home. The fan achieves this by creating negative pressure — air is pulled out of open windows and directed to the attic, which creates a positive pressure differential in the attic and a negative one inside the rooms with the opened windows. The result is a cooling effect felt throughout the home.
Whole-house fans are the oldest type of home cooling system and are still an effective option for cooling your home every time the outside temperature is lower than the inside temperature. Depending on your own preferences and whether you have an attic, your whole house fan can be ceiling-mounted, window-mounted, ducted or rooftop-mounted.
There are many benefits that make house fans a viable home cooling option for your home. Besides their affordable price and low operating costs, these fans are fast-performing, easy to install and extremely quiet. But like every home cooling system discussed so far, there are also a few drawbacks — the main one being the poor air quality that is pulled inside if you happen to live in humid, polluted or pollen-laden areas. The other issue is that these fans are not effective when the outside temperature is not lower than the indoor temperature.
Tips to keep your home cool in the heat
Now that you are familiar with the most common types of home cooling systems, let’s discuss some tips to keep your home at a cool temperature during the summer months.
Check seals around doors and windows
Air leaks are one of the main reasons homeowners struggle to maintain a cool indoor temperature. The most common area where these leaks occur is around the doors and windows. While qualified technicians generally handle thorough air leak checks, you can still detect small leaks on your own by checking the seals around your doors and windows.
The first step of the process is doing a brief visual inspection of the potential areas where air leaks usually develop. Look for any gaps or cracks in your door and window frames, and make sure to carefully inspect the exterior caulking to see if re-caulking is needed. Check if the windows and doors are easy to rattle, as this could indicate a possible air leak.
This might seem like a simplistic way of regulating temperature, but closing blinds is a highly effective way of blocking out the heat of the sun, which in turn helps keep the temperature cool inside the home. Closing blinds is especially necessary during the hours of the day when your home is directly exposed to the sun’s rays.
To help deflect heat in an effective manner, opt for white window treatments and make sure to always close the curtains that face south and west during the day.
Adjust ceiling fans
Another key factor that can help you keep a consistently cool indoor temperature is ceiling fan adjustment. In fact, many homeowners neglect to readjust their ceiling fans after winter. The right setting during the summer is to use the ceiling fan in a counterclockwise direction, as this rotation will help generate a cooling effect by pushing air down. Conversely, the clockwise setting will pull air up and recirculate heat across the home.
Adjusting ceiling fans and using them during the summer provides many benefits to homeowners. As a secondary cooling unit, fans can help you save a significant amount of money on air conditioning costs and reduce the usage rate of your central or room A/C units, extending their life span in the process.
Close off unused rooms
Closing off unused rooms can help you trap heat in the areas of your home you are not using and improve air circulation in the parts of the home that you want to cool down. More importantly, closing off unused rooms allows your air conditioner unit to operate more efficiently, which could reduce cooling costs by a significant margin.
Let cool air in at night
Keeping the windows open at night is the simplest way to let cool air into your home during the time of day when the temperature is at its lowest. Opening windows in different rooms will result in a cross breeze that quickly circulates throughout your space, pushing the heat outside and lowering the indoor temperature in the process.
Besides improving ventilation and airflow in your home, there is a wide range of other benefits to letting cool air in at night. Two of the most important ones include preventing carbon dioxide (CO2) buildup and keeping indoor humidity at low levels.
Use a dehumidifier
While a dehumidifier will not allow you to control the temperature of the room, it will make the air more comfortable and less damp by effectively getting rid of the humidity. In fact, excess water vapor in the air is one of the leading culprits behind the muggy feeling you experience during a hot summer night. Reducing humidity will also contribute to preventing mold from growing and help keep your wallpaper and paint from peeling.
To reduce humidity in a living space, dehumidifiers employ a fan that draws moist warm air into the coils. This air dissipates after hitting the coils while the condensation gradually drains into a storage tank.
Make some home improvements
Making the right changes and upgrades to your home can play a major role in maintaining a cool indoor temperature throughout the day. The simplest change you can make is to replace all incandescent light bulbs in your house, as they are prone to generating excess heat and waste energy. Fluorescent and LED bulbs are the better choices if you want to avoid these issues.
If your budget allows it, you might also want to explore larger upgrades, such as installing a new roof with extra heat protection or repainting your home. Switching to a lighter color for the exterior of the home is especially recommended. As a matter of fact, bright colors are more reflective than dark colors and are more effective at keeping the sun’s heat at bay.
Protect your home cooling system from expensive repairs with Cinch Home Services
As one of the most important systems in your home, it’s critical that you keep on top of repairing and maintaining your home cooling unit. This is why it’s essential to have a contingency plan in place to deal with potentially expensive repairs.
Cinch’s Built-in Systems plan is a perfect example of a home warranty that can protect your budget and keep your home cooling system up and running fast. This home protection plan covers many components of your A/C unit, ranging from ductwork and the blower motor to the compressor and evaporator coil. To get started, get a quote from us today.