Air conditioning is possible in a green home. Read all about it in this installation of our 'Focus on Green Homes' series.
Air conditioning in green homes is cause for much debate among green enthusiasts. Certainly, the best way to save energy on air conditioning is to not have it or use it. But this is just not practical for everyone.
Without a doubt, air conditioning of the past was anything but green. It used very damaging chemicals and consumed large amounts energy for what it produces. Even more efficient units in use today still use a lot of energy causing electricity electricity bills in the summer months. Can a system be designed for a green home that uses much less electricity and no damaging chemicals? Yes, indeed.
Size Matters – The first consideration when designing an air conditioning system for your green home is the size of the system. Air conditioning systems should be sized correctly for the space to be cooled, considering the number, location, and type of trees, the number of window, the arrangement of the house, and size of the living space. Care should be taken to right-size the system – it should not be too big or too small. Then we need to look at all the renewable resources we can use to accomplish this.
Cooling from the Earth – For the system to be truly green, renewable resources must be considered. One of the best renewable resources is called geo-thermal. Geo-thermal is literally heating or cooling from the depth of the earth. It is the reason that most caves are the same temperature (around 55F) all year round. We can use this constant temperature of the earth to cool air for air conditioning.
To accomplish geo-thermal cooling, water (or other liquid) is pushed through a tube in the ground buried at an appropriate depth. The water is cooled to the ground temperature. Air is then passed over the tube and the warm room air is transferred to the water in the tube, removing the hot air from the home. The heated water is then pushed back although the tube under the ground and the heat is transferred into the ground effectively cooling the water back to 55 degrees and the process starts all over again.
Clean and Efficient – Using geo-thermal air conditioning is clean and quiet. For systems that do not use forced air to distribute the cool air, there is far less dust and noise.
This system uses much less energy to create cool air for the home than conventional air conditioning and is much better for the environment. This system can also be used to heat the home. The cost of the system and the depth to which the tubes must be buried depends on the part of the world in which you live.