The Green Guide to Portable Air Conditioners

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If you pay attention to the news, you have probably heard enough to make you worry about the effects of air conditioners on the environment. And it's true, the excessive use of energy that skyrockets in the summer months and the potential for producing greenhouse gasses are reasonable causes for concern.

But the simple truth is most of us aren't ready to sacrifice our personal comfort entirely. When the weather turns hot, we want to be cool! But it is possible to reduce the impact on the environment while still enjoying the relief that an air conditioner can provide. Here is a collection of tips that will help you use your air conditioner in a more environmentally-friendly manner.

Use a Portable Air Conditioner

The most significant choice you can make is to choose a room or portable air conditioner instead of turning on the central air conditioner. By cooling only the room you are actually using, you will reduce the amount of energy expended when compared to the expense of cooling the entire house. Why keep the bedroom cool when you are busy cooking dinner in the kitchen? Why cool down the living room after you've gone to bed? A portable air conditioner has wheels and handles to easily move it from room to room, and takes only a few moments to set up wherever you need it.

Know About EER

The Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) tells you how much cooling a portable air conditioner can create in relation to the amount of energy it uses. The higher the number, the greater the efficiency. The current minimum requirement by law for portable air conditioners is an EER of 10. If you can't find the EER in a product listing, you can calculate it for yourself by dividing the BTUs (usually between 5000 and 14000 for portable air conditioniers) by the watts used.

Choose Energy Star

This program, run jointly by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy, has saved over $800,000,000 in energy costs and over 6 billion kilowatt hours of electricity by identifying and promoting energy-efficient products. When you buy a portable air conditioner with the Energy Star label, you will use about 10% less energy than with a conventional model, which means you'll be saving money at the same time you're helping the environment.

Choose R-410A Refrigerant

The refrigerant R-410A was invented and patented in 1991. R-410A contains no chlorine and does not contribute to ozone depletion, unlike the older R-22 and similar hydrochlorofluorocarbon-based refrigerants which have been traditionally used in portable air conditioners. In fact, since 2010, by the mandate of the Environmental Protection Agency, R-22 can no longer be used in the manufacture of air conditioners in the USA and EU. In addition, independent testing shows that R-410A allows a higher heat transfer than R22, allowing for more efficient operation.

Choose the Right Size Portable Air Conditioner Unit

If you choose a portable air conditioner that is too small for the space you plan to use it in, then it will have to work harder and burn more energy to provide satisfactory cooling. A portable air conditioner that is too big for the intended room will not remove as much humidity from the air (leaving you cold and clammy) and must cycle on and off more frequently, which is less efficient than a smaller unit that runs consistently. A good guideline to follow is 35 BTUs for each square foot in the room, but take into account such factors as whether the room is sunny or shaded, how many people will be using the room, and how well-insulated the room is. Check this guide for a more detailed explanation of how to choose the right size portable air conditioner.

Install and Vent Properly

A portable air conditioner works by drawing in warm air, removing the heat, and circulating the now-cooled air back into the room. But all that heat has to go somewhere. Most portable air conditioning units come with an exhaust hose and window kit that allow you to expel the heat outside. Follow the manufacturer's directions to make sure that your portable air conditioner is venting correctly, or it will dump the heat back into the room you're trying to cool. You'll spend extra energy (and dollars!) cooling it all over again. We have a guide to help you vent your portable air conditioner properly.

Keep Your Portable Air Conditioner Clean

A well-maintained portable air conditioner works more-efficiently than one that's been allowed to gather dirt and grime. Take the time to clean out air vents and filters to make sure your air conditioning unit is operating at its peak.

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Turn on the Timer

Choose a portable air conditioner that includes features that let you customize your cooling needs precisely. Automatic thermostats will monitor the room temperature and cycle the fan on the air conditioner accordingly. Programmable timers let you set on and off times so that portable air conditioner doesn't run when no one is there to enjoy the cooler air. A sleep function will step down cooling function gradually, while a fan-only mode lets you create a refreshing air flow without running the compressor. All of these functions mean less energy expended when cooling isn't needed.

Keep Your Room Cool

You'll use your portable air conditioner less if you employ a few other tricks to keep the ambient room temperature down. Close the curtains, doors and windows during the hottest part of the day to keep the heat from pouring in. Open them again at night when the outside air is cooler. Turn off unnecessary lights and electronics that create heat. For the long term, planting broad-leaved trees outside will shade the house and reduce the need to run air conditioning at all.

Keep Yourself Cool

When it's hot out, find ways to lower your body temperature so that your portable air conditioner doesn't have to work so hard. Dress appropriately in light, loose-fitting clothing. Drink lots of cool water to make sure you stay hydrated and your body feels cooler. Dine on cool foods like fruit salad, and avoid overly spicy and salty foods that can raise your body temperature. Make an ice pack for the back of your neck or tie a wet bandana around your forehead. Running cold water over your wrists for just 10 seconds can reduce your body temperature for as much as an hour, as can soaking your feet in a bucket of ice water. Enjoy a serving of your favorite ice cream! These are quick and easy ways to stay cool without relying entirely on your portable air conditioner. Stay comfortable, but save energy at the same time.

We are all concerned about protecting our environment for generations to come, but that doesn't mean we have to suffer through the hottest months without the relief provided by modern air conditioning. Now that you know how you can use a portable air conditioner and still be environmentally friendly, check out our offerings to find a new portable air conditioner for your home.

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