The Basics

HVAC For Beginners

Central AC


Heat Pumps

Portable AC

Evaporative Cooling

Whole House Fans

Window AC

Cooling a home is a crucial aspect of maintaining comfort and energy efficiency. As global temperatures rise and energy costs increase, the need for effective cooling solutions becomes increasingly important. Here, HvacRepairGuy provides a comprehensive overview of cooling methods and technologies for residential homes, with a focus on energy efficiency, environmental impact, and cost-effectiveness. We explore various cooling systems, strategies, and best practices to help homeowners make informed decisions and reduce their environmental footprint while maintaining indoor comfort. HvacRepairGuy will explain the different types of home cooling systems, highlighting their advantages, disadvantages, and suitability for various situations. You can continue reading or watch one of our informative videos to learn about the different types of cooling systems, the parts of the units, and how they operate.

Home Cooling Basics

Central Air Conditioning

A central air conditioning system cools the air in the home and it does so at one specific location which can be an air handler or furnace with an air conditioning coil at its air outlet. This cooler air is then distributed throughout the home via a duct system. This cooling of the air can be done with a standard air conditioner or a heat pump operating in the cooling mode.

These systems have advantages such as easily maintaining a comfortable and uniform temperature in all rooms through a central control (thermostat) that can be programmed to keep you comfortable. These systems also often include air filtration and purification features that can help remove allergens, dust, and pollutants from the indoor air, leading to improved air quality. Modern central AC units are designed for quieter operation, reducing noise disturbances in comparison to some other cooling options. These systems can be highly energy-efficient, especially when equipped with features like variable-speed compressors and zoning capabilities, which allow for cooling specific areas as needed. Most of the components of these systems are usually hidden from view, with only vents visible in the living space. This makes them more aesthetically pleasing compared to the spot cooling options. Installing a central AC system can increase the resale value of a home, as it is a desirable feature for many homebuyers.

One of the most significant drawbacks of central AC is its upfront cost, which includes the purchase and installation expenses. It can be considerably more expensive than other cooling options. These systems rely on a network of ducts to distribute air. If the building does not have existing ductwork, installation can be disruptive and costly. Central AC systems often use refrigerants with a high Global Warming Potential (GWP), which can contribute to environmental issues if not properly managed or if leaks occur. Retrofitting older homes with central AC can be challenging due to structural limitations and space constraints, which may result in higher installation costs.

Spot Air Conditioning

Spot air conditioning involves the placement of various cooling devices in different rooms of the home. The equipment used can include ductless mini-split air conditioners, portable AC units, and window mounted air conditioners.

This solution has advantages such as the fact that they can lead to significant energy savings by only conditioning spaces that are in use. These systems are typically less invasive and quicker to install than adding ductwork for a central AC system. This is a less expensive option than a central AC system and they are particularly good for those that are renting a home or apartment that does not currently have a cooling system.

A major disadvantage of these units is the fact that they are visible being mounted on walls, in windows, taking up floor space which may not suit all interior aesthetics. They are also less convenient as they are not all controlled from a central location and they can add significant noise to the rooms in which they are operating.

Evaporative Cooling Systems

Evaporative cooling systems, often referred to as swamp coolers, are an alternative to traditional air conditioning systems for cooling homes. They work by drawing warm air through water-saturated pads, causing the air to cool through evaporation before circulating it into living spaces. As with central AC systems, these systems can do the cooling at a central location and then distribute the air or it can be done at several places using portable or window mounted units.

One of the advantages of these systems is the fact that they consume significantly less electricity than traditional air conditioning units. They use water as the primary cooling medium, producing lower greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional air conditioners that rely on refrigerants with a high Global Warming Potential (GWP). Unlike air conditioning systems that recirculate indoor air, evaporative coolers bring in fresh outdoor air, which can improve indoor air quality and reduce the buildup of indoor pollutants. Evaporative coolers are relatively easy to maintain compared to air conditioners and the initial installation cost is lower.

Evaporative coolers are most effective in hot, dry climates with low humidity levels. They can provide a substantial drop in indoor temperatures under these conditions but they are ineffective in other climates. Evaporative coolers consume a significant amount of water, which may be a concern in areas with water scarcity or drought conditions. These systems provide limited temperature reductions of up to 20 degrees Fahrenheit which may not be sufficient for extreme heatwaves or when lower indoor temperatures are desired. Some evaporative coolers can be noisy when operating, and they require regular maintenance to prevent scaling and corrosion issues, particularly in hard water areas.

Passive Cooling Options

Passive cooling options for homes are sustainable and energy-efficient strategies that rely on natural processes and design principles to maintain comfortable indoor temperatures without the need for mechanical cooling systems, such as air conditioners. Passive cooling can significantly reduce energy consumption and utility costs while minimizing environmental impact.

Whole House Fans

Whole house fans are an effective and energy efficient way to cool a home, especially during mild to moderately hot weather. These systems are used to replace the warm air that is inside the home with cooler air during the night. The systems use less energy and are relatively inexpensive while providing a cooling option for the entire home. They have a limited cooling ability that is not constant or predictable and the ability goes down during heat waves when cooling is most needed.