In these days of super-fast communication media, it takes very little time and effort for misinformation to spread. Misinformation can then be taken as fact by large numbers of people. Unfortunately, half-baked ideas and misconceptions about air-conditioning are common—getting in the way of making good decisions about home HVAC systems. Take a look at these five air-conditioning myths, debunked so that you can separate fact from fiction about your home AC.
1. Air-conditioning Causes Respiratory Problems
This is a myth not backed up by health research. When AC equipment is used correctly, it helps prevent and minimize health issues. By filtering out harmful airborne particles—bacteria, viruses, fungi, pollen, dander, and other allergens, cleaner air circulates indoors. As a result, asthma and hay fever sufferers can breathe easier, particularly if high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are used.
However, if you don’t service your air conditioner regularly, the air filters will eventually become dirty and clogged, lowering the air quality in the home. So, this is a case of a myth deriving from homeowners’ neglect of their equipment.
2. The Bigger the AC Unit, the Better
While it seems to make sense that a large, powerful AC unit is best for cooling down rooms, that’s not necessarily the case. Equipment needs to be sized for the space it’s expected to service.
An undersized AC unit will have to work harder to meet set temperature levels, making it less energy efficient, and costing you more in energy bills. Similarly, an oversized unit will need to turn itself on and off to maintain set temperatures, also using more energy than the right-sized equipment would. The result in both cases is higher equipment wear and tear, along with higher energy costs. Additionally, the lifespan of the equipment will be shorter, requiring earlier replacement.
3. Keeping Vents Closed Keeps Air Cool
Many air-conditioning myths seem to start from a logical position but don’t hold up due to a lack of technical knowledge. For example, it’s a popular misconception that if you close off vents and doors in lightly used rooms, chill air will circulate in a smaller area keeping the home cooler.
Unfortunately, home HVAC systems don’t work optimally with vents closed. Air pressure builds up in the air ducts, putting strain on the equipment, lowering energy efficiency, and raising energy costs. Vents should be open so that air is evenly distributed through your home, which is how your AC equipment was designed to be used.
4. AC Equipment Isn’t Efficient for Heating
An expensive fallacy held by many homeowners is that reverse-cycle air conditioning isn’t as efficient as dedicated heating appliances. Gas or electric wall attached or portable plug-in heaters are used rather than AC. However, the heating method used by reverse cycle AC units actually results in lower heating costs per hour than typical plug-in heaters.
Reverse cycle air conditioners draw in heat from outdoor air to indoors. Then, the drawn-in air is heated to set thermostat temperatures through a refrigerant process. This energy-efficient method of heating works even in freezing weather.
The energy cost savings from a reverse cycle air conditioner can be more than 50% less per hour compared to radiant and panel heaters. Of course, this depends on specific appliance models and their energy input levels. Check the Energy Star ratings for your AC and heating appliances. You may be shocked at the difference in running costs and how much this can add up to over winter.
5. ACs Are Bad for the Environment
This is one of the most disingenuous air-conditioning myths. It’s propagated upon the notion that any use of power is bad for the environment and that AC is particularly to blame. However, heating and cooling are essential requirements of modern life for most people. Moreover, as with Myth Number 4, reverse-cycle air conditioning can be much more efficient than standard heating appliances. As such, the lower energy use of AC appliances benefits the environment.
Using reverse-cycle AC results in roughly one-third fewer emissions being released into the atmosphere. Some of the most efficient appliances produce only one-fifth the level of emissions by standard heaters. Technical improvements in refrigerants are also reducing greenhouse gas levels. Human ingenuity can be expected to achieve even better results in future years.
Keep Your Air Conditioning Equipment at Peak Efficiency
At Briggs HVAC, we love helping debunk AC myths. Talk to us about a system maintenance plan to keep your AC in top condition and reduce energy emissions and costs. We service Northern Virginia and nearby counties.