Understanding the Basics of Air Conditioning

Understanding the Basics of Air Conditioning

Air Conditioning is a system that provides heat and moisture control in commercial or residential buildings, using sheet metal ducts to distribute the conditioned air throughout the building. It is a complex electromechanical system that requires the careful monitoring of numerous parameters to achieve its many benefits, including temperature, humidity, cleanliness and movement of air. These systems are the result of nearly a century of engineering development in cooling, thermodynamics, controls and energy efficiency.

A good understanding of the air conditioning system and how it works is the first step to a more comfortable home or office. Many people think that air conditioners simply push cold air into a building, but this is far from the truth. An air conditioner removes heat from indoor air and transfers it outdoors, replacing it with cooler air. It is important to understand that a properly designed and maintained air conditioning system will be as efficient as possible, and therefore consume the least amount of energy.

Before air conditioning, the most common method of achieving cool temperatures in homes and offices was to store large blocks of ice that would melt over the course of the day, producing cool air through evaporation. Modern air conditioning uses the principles of mechanical refrigeration to cool indoor air by blowing it over a set of cold pipes, called an evaporator coil. The evaporator coil is filled with a special liquid, known as a refrigerant, that changes from a liquid to a gas when it absorbs the heat from the indoor air. The refrigerant is then pumped through another coil outside the house where it gives up its heat and returns to a liquid state.

Understanding the Basics of Air Conditioning

When the cooled air is blown back into the house, it replaces hot, moist indoor air and reduces the humidity level in the room. The first modern air conditioning units were created by Willis Carrier as a way to control humidity at a printing plant in Brooklyn, NY, in 1902. It wasn’t until much later that it was realized that air conditioners could be used to control temperatures as well.

Keeping your air conditioning running efficiently begins with making sure the system is properly sized for your home or business. The size of the equipment is determined by the number of people, appliances and other activities that take place inside your home or office. Then, the unit is sized with the correct amount of refrigerant to meet that load. Using more or less than the proper amount of refrigerant will cause your air conditioning system to work overtime and increase energy costs.

Changing the air filters regularly and reducing the number of electrical appliances that run during the cooling process will also improve efficiency. If you make a few small changes, you can reduce the amount of work your air conditioner has to do and cut down on energy consumption significantly. This will save you money on your monthly electric bill and help to extend the life of your air conditioning system.

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