Conserving with Swamp CoolersTurning on the air conditioner in the summer months is always a last resort in our home. Relatively speaking, we don’t have a lot of unbearably hot days in North Dakota. And when the weather is above 80º, there is always the thought we should enjoy it while we can, because soon there will be a negative in front of the numbers on our outdoor thermometer. This year we’ve had some air-conditioning issues. Namely, it hasn’t been working. This led me to do some research on energy-efficient ways to cool our home, and I’ve found an intriguing alternative to conventional air conditioners: an evaporative cooler. Because evaporative coolers add moisture to the air and blow it around, they are sometimes known as “swamp coolers.” I’m not sure if it would be a viable option in our region of the country, but it’s an interesting substitute. An evaporative cooler provides effective cooling by combining water evaporation with a simple air-moving system. Outside air is pulled through moist pads where it is cooled by evaporation and circulated throughout a house or building by a large blower. As this happens, the temperature of the outside air can be lowered as much as 30º. Simply put, evaporative coolers are eco-friendly, energy-efficient coolers that use the simple power of evaporation to provide cooling comfort. Some evaporative cooling benefits:
  • Lower installation costs. Conventional air conditioners can be three to four times more expensive to install.
  • Lower operating cost (110 volts). Conventional air conditioners require 240-volt power and power usage can be three to four times more expensive depending upon the efficiency of the unit.
  • Easy maintenance. Conventional air conditioners must be serviced by a qualified technician.
  • Quick, whole-house air replacement. Fresh air enters and stale air is pushed out. Conventional air conditioners recirculate indoor air.
Evaporative coolers also add moisture to your indoor air, which is a good thing if you’re in a dry area. But it’s not so good if you’re in an area that has hot, humid summers. As the humidity increases, the ability for them to cool the air effectively decreases. If an evaporative cooler isn’t an option for your neck of the woods, check out the EPA’s Energy Star site for information on energy-efficient products. According to the EPA, products with the Energy Star label can save homeowners 10% to 40% on their heating and cooling bills every year. Purchasing an energy-efficient air conditioning system will help you to save on energy costs and assist the environment at the same time.