In today’s world, we take air conditioning for granted. We’ve come to expect cool indoor temperatures regardless of how high the outdoor temperature soars. Let’s take a look under the hood, so to speak, at the equipment that keeps us all comfortable.
How it works. Air conditioning units are comprised of three parts: a compressor and a condenser, both housed outside, and an inside unit called an evaporator coil. A refrigerant is pumped continuously in a closed loop, from the outside compressor and condenser to the inside evaporator. As the refrigerant in the system expands from liquid to gas and back again, it carries heat from the house to the outside, and takes chilled air into the house to be blown through the vents, making your home comfortable.
Supporting components. A thermostat inside the house regulates when the air conditioner is needed and turns it on and off. The ducting system delivers the air to the rooms from the “air handler,” which is the inside fan blowing the cold air into the house. Insulation is needed in the walls, the attic and basement spaces to keep the cold air in and hot air out so that the system doesn’t have to run constantly.
Growth in technology. Home air conditioning technology has improved tremendously, becoming more efficient in the use of electricity and providing consumers with better temperature control. The motors running the systems draw less power than in the past. The old refrigerant chemical called R-22 has been replaced by less toxic R410A, which also has better cooling capacity. New thermostats are programmable, allowing homeowners to regulate temperatures, and therefore, energy usage, throughout the day. Some thermostats, such as the NEST system, are capable of self-programming accordingly to your preferences.