Do Air Conditioners Create Air Pollution?

June 4, 2022
Environmental Health in Seattle, WA

Having adequate air conditioning in your home is a necessity. However, more and more homeowners are becoming concerned about the possible environmental impact that comes with running their AC almost constantly for a large part of the year. Specifically, many people wonder about how much air pollution their air conditioning system might be causing. Here is everything you need to know about air conditioning and how it can contribute to air pollution.

The Impact of HFCs

One potential impact of air conditioners is that they can release HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons) into the atmosphere. The refrigerant used inside an air conditioner is one type of HFC, and this can be released into the air if your air conditioning system has a refrigerant leak. The refrigerant can also be released if an old AC unit isn’t disposed of properly.

Even a small amount of HFCs can be extremely damaging to the environment. Although they only account for around 1% of the total greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere, HFCs can have a huge impact on the climate. This is because most HFCs are more than 1000 times more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide, which makes them a huge contributor to global warming and climate change.

The good news is that if your AC is working properly and isn’t leaking refrigerant, there is basically zero chance of it releasing HFCs. The easiest way to ensure that this is the case is to make sure to have your system inspected and professionally maintained at least once a year and to replace your old AC before it begins to fail and starts leaking refrigerant.

Air Conditioners and Energy Usage

Refrigerant leaks are rare if the AC is in good working order. The far bigger issue with air conditioners is the huge amount of energy they use. Statistics show that more than 90% of American homes have air conditioning, and these air conditioners account for approximately 6% of the total annual energy usage in the United States.

The issue is that most of this energy is still created by burning fossil fuels, which means that every time your AC runs, it contributes to increased air pollution. In fact, it is estimated that air conditioners in the US alone account for more than 100 million tons of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere each year.

The fact that burning fossil fuels releases so much air pollution means that the only way to ensure that your air conditioner doesn’t cause any air pollution at all is to switch to a renewable source of energy such as solar or wind. Installing a solar power system can drastically reduce the air pollution your AC contributes and reduce your carbon footprint. Nonetheless, there is no way to fully eliminate the air pollution caused by your AC unless the solar system can generate 100% of the energy that your cooling system uses.

There are other ways that you can at least reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emissions that the unit is responsible for producing. Using your air conditioner less frequently can help, and you can also achieve similar results by setting your thermostat to a higher temperature so that the air conditioner runs less often and for shorter periods. It is also important that you have your system regularly maintained and inspected to ensure that it is working as efficiently as possible and not using more energy than it should be.

Professional Cooling Services

If you’re concerned that your AC is using more energy than it should be, our expert technicians at Brennan Heating & Air Conditioning can help with all your maintenance, inspection, and repair needs. We proudly provide exceptional cooling and heating services to customers throughout the western Washington area and have done so since 1987. Furthermore, our certified HVAC technicians have the knowledge and experience to work on any type or brand of existing equipment. We also offer dehumidifiers, UV lights, and more. Financing options are available for new equipment purchases on approved credit, and we also provide free cost estimates for all work we perform. To learn more about our range of services or to schedule an appointment, give Brennan Heating & Air Conditioning a call today.

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