* This post was updated in March 2018
People are always seeking ways to use energy more efficiently with the intent of saving money on utilities and minimizing their carbon footprint. But along the way, certain ideas have emerged about how people think they ought to use their air conditioner, versus how the air conditioner actually works. These are the main AC myths many of us fall susceptible to!
Myth #1: Using a low set-point temperature will decrease humidity similar to Dry Mode
Air conditioners consume energy at a rate that is based on outdoor temperature and relative humidity. However, the way AC remotes are designed often cause us to fixate on the temperature and power buttons alone, ignoring other modes.
Since we are very sensitive to humidity and respond to moisture-heavy environments by sweating, we end up feeling even hotter. Sometimes it is more beneficial to use our AC on Dry Mode, an AC function that could be more energy efficient at extracting humidity from the room, when conditions are humid but not too hot - as it is essentially a weaker version of "Cool Mode".
Using Dry Mode will cause the fan in your AC to operate at a slower speed, resulting in a cooler evaporator coil that condenses water vapor as the AC blows out the dry air through the appliance. This mode won't completely dehumidify your home but it will reduce moisture and will also use less energy than the full Power or Cool modes. Since so many people struggle with figuring Dry Mode out, here's a breakdown of exactly how it can save energy.
Myth #2: Setting your AC to a lower temperature will cool the room faster and more efficiently
With the exception of inverter ACs, conventional units can only turn the compressor on or off. So whether you set your AC for 23°C or 19°C, your AC will not work any faster to reach the lower temperature. A lower set-point temperature will eventually use more energy and if you forget to re-adjust it, your AC will over-cool and be less efficient.
The smaller the difference between outdoor and indoor temperatures, the lower your overall energy bill will be. Here are a few tips on efficiently using your AC.
Myth #3: Keeping your air conditioner on all day will save more energy than turning it on/off
Some people believe that it's more effective to leave your AC running all day, even when no one is around. Your AC consumes less power when completely turned off, as opposed to operating all day at even at a higher temperature.
So in reality, it's more efficient to turn your AC off when it is not needed. It will also run more efficiently when operating at full speed for shorter periods of time than when maintaining a constant temperature.
Myth #4: Temperature is the only thing that controls your comfort
According to ASHRAE, there are 6 factors which affect your thermal comfort while your air conditioner only takes temperature into account! Things like radiant sunlight, the amount of clothing you wear, or humidity are crucial elements of how comfortable you may feel.
Because air conditioners only take temperature into account, forgoing all these other factors, we end up always feeling too cold, too hot, or just plain uneasy. Since your air conditioner is limited as to what it can sense, only being able to release air in a certain preset temperature, it's unable to act upon these different factors, consider them and optimize your environment.
To bridge this huge comfort gap, a great solution could be a Smart remote controller! Devices such as these would have multiple sensors and make use of a sea of online data to correctly analyze and improve your surroundings; sensors and data could include internal humidity, sunlight, and tracking of our metabolic cycle (time of day), among others, thus providing a whole new level of accuracy, automation and control.
Some Smart Controllers will even make use of AI and Machine Learning to further learn about your preferences to auto-adjust your AC based on your needs and produce personalized comfort.
Myth #5: Air conditioners generate or create fresh air
Contrary to popular belief, air conditioners do not create, let in, or generate fresh air. What they essentially do is refrigerate the air within a room.
Here’s how a conventional AC unit works: your AC forces refrigerant to evaporate and condense into a gas within the system of coils. As this liquid compound converts into a gas, it becomes colder. The refrigerants convert from liquid back to gas in a continuous cycle through a compressor. Meanwhile, a fan located within the AC unit moves warm air from your room over the coils filled with cold refrigerant and chills it.
This process of conversion generates heat, which is pushed outdoors by another set of condenser coils and a fan. While air conditioning may feel like new or fresh air is being produced in your room, in reality you are merely feeling refrigerated indoor air.
If that was confusing, this diagram might help:
Myth #6: Unless there's a problem, you don't need to regularly check your AC
As long as your AC turns on and circulates cool air within your home, it may be easy to forget that these appliances need some routine maintenance. Remember to periodically clean your AC and filters to ensure efficient performance. The difference in energy consumption between a dirty filter and a clean one can be up to ~5% so make sure to be on top of things!