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Understanding Central Air Units and Systems

The right temperature in your home or office can make a huge difference in your life as well as your productivity. If your home or work is too hot, you feel more easily tired and prone to experiencing a slump in the afternoon. If your home or work is too cold, it can uncomfortable and difficult to concentrate. Efficient central air units & systems, whether it’s an air conditioning unit or swamp cooler, is an important part of maintaining a comfortable lifestyle. If you seek relaxation at home and a comfortable work environment in the office, then your central air units need to become a part of that harmony. Below is an outline of the different types of central air systems available and the pros and cons of each.

Air Conditioning/Central Air Units

An efficient air conditioning unit is one of the best investments homeowners and business owners can make. For a long time air conditioners have long been known as electricity-hogging devices that ooze environmentally-damaging refrigerants – but times have changed. New AC units have many improvements that not only ensure the circulation of clean, cool air throughout your home but that utilize much less harmful refrigerants than days past. New technology has helped AC units utilize much less energy than before, as well. Two decades ago, a standard AC unit could use around 6,000 watts of electricity per hour to cool a standard size house. Today, the same type of standard unit can use about 75% less electricity per hour to cool the same size house.

SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio; currently, newly installed air conditioning units must be 13 SEER. SEER is like gas mileage: the higher the SEER, the better the system runs and the lower your energy bills. In January of 2015, there will be a new federal mandate that requires all new air conditioning units to be 14 SEER. Those who have 13 SEER units today will be grandfathered in.

It is extremely important to maintain your air conditioning unit to ensure maximum efficiency. To begin with, make sure your unit is the right size for your living space. Take into account your home’s general climate, sun exposure, layout, insulation and air leakage. A unit that’s too small will be overworked; a unit too large cools down the area too quickly, so the thermostat turns off and the air isn’t properly dehumidified or fully circulated. To do an air conditioning inspection or tune-up, call your local air conditioning professional. He will inspect the ins and out of your unit to make sure it is performing the best it can and that your energy bills are not being wasted.

Evaporative cooling

When you exit a warm pool and feel chilly, you are experiencing the same principle behind how evaporative coolers work. Perspiring is the same concept. Evaporative coolers work best in hot, dry climates, and they have been utilized in the Valley for decades. A blower inside the cooler brings in air and sends it back out. Before it is expelled, it is exposed through a few wet pads, kept wet by a small pump. The temperature of the air can decrease at this point by up to 20 degrees. Now, the cool, moist air permeates the surrounding air and circulates throughout your home or office.

Also known as swamp coolers, these types of central air systems are simple and cost-effective. However, if you live in an area that tends to have any humidity, an evaporative cooler would not work because of the amount of moisture already in the air. Also, swamp coolers are not as easily controlled if you wish to maintain specific temperatures in your home or office, or in certain rooms. These types of central air units are environmentally friendly, less expensive, and reliable, but it is more difficult to control temperatures with an evaporative cooler than with an air conditioning unit.

Just like your air conditioning unit, swamp coolers must also be maintained. You must check water levels, keep it clean, replace pads every year and make sure working parts are oiled and working efficiently.


Naturally, ceiling fans in the most populated areas of your home or office are a good idea to support the circulation of cool air from air conditioning units or evaporative coolers. However, in some cool climates, ceiling fans may be the only central air units that you need. Today, ceiling fans are fully controllable, come in an array of designs that complement your home or office and are even available with bladeless technology.

Ceiling fans, just like other central air units, must be maintained. They must be dusted, oiled and at a speed both comfortable for the room it is cooling and your energy bill. Old fans must be replaced every decade or so, as with so much use they can get loose and less efficient. Another con is that they cannot cool a room enough if temperatures are soaring – only hot air will be circulated at that point. Fans are helpful without other central air systems only if outside temperatures remain generally comfortable.

With any of these central air systems, maintenance is key to getting the most of your money and energy costs. Air conditioning units, evaporative coolers, and fans must all be in good, clean working order to perform to the best of their abilities and cool your home sufficiently. A local air conditioning company such as Penguin Air, Plumbing & Electrical can perform regular tune-ups and maintenance on your central air conditioning system and can advise you on how to best cool your home.

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