June 13, 2022
Environmental Health in Salem, OR

With individuals becoming increasingly concerned about the health of the earth, many people are taking a close look at their homes to ensure they aren’t unknowingly contributing to pollution or other problems. At Woodward Heating Air Plumbing, we want to help you analyze your air conditioner to understand if it might be causing any problems for the earth. By educating yourself, you’ll be able to take more control over your air conditioner and help move air pollution levels in Salem in the right direction.

The Equipment

A new air conditioner, straight from the factory, doesn’t cause any air pollution on its own. Most components of an air conditioner are made of metal, meaning that when it’s time to replace your air conditioner, these components are recyclable. Some parts of newer air conditioners are made from plastic, which often ends up in a landfill and doesn’t break down for several hundred years. If you need to replace your air conditioner, you can opt for a higher-end unit with a higher percentage of metal components than its less-expensive counterparts.

Electricity Usage

The primary way that an air conditioner contributes to air pollution is through the electricity it uses. Therefore, while you might not be polluting the air immediately around your home, you are still contributing to air pollution on a larger scale. If your local utility company uses fossil fuels to create electricity, your air conditioner use requires carbon dioxide to be released into the air during the combustion process. Since air conditioning units utilize more electricity than any other single device in your home, this pollution can add up over the course of a summer. That’s why it’s important to use your air conditioner as sparingly as possible.

Heat Pollution

Another type of air pollution that an air conditioner creates is heat pollution. One of an air conditioner’s jobs is to remove heat from your home and expel it outside. This concentrated heat release creates a miniature heat island effect, which can harm nearby wildlife. This effect is especially prominent during the night when the outdoor air temperature is cooler. To help reduce the effects of heat pollution, try to run your air conditioner less at night so that nocturnal animals won’t be negatively affected. If you’re installing an air conditioner for the first time, you may want to opt for smaller ductless units to help spread out the heat over a larger area.

Leaking Refrigerant

A third type of air pollution associated with air conditioners is pollution caused by leaking refrigerant. Although newer types of refrigerant are less harmful to the environment than older types, there are still risks involved. The best way to avoid this problem is to have Woodward Heating Air Plumbing maintain your system. During a typical maintenance visit, a technician will check the pressure in your refrigerant line to ensure there are no leaks. By scheduling an annual maintenance visit, you’ll be able to catch leaks quickly before a lot of refrigerant has a chance to leak into the air. This risk of refrigerant pollution highlights the importance of choosing a well-respected HVAC company so that no refrigerant leaks from the system when the refrigerant line needs to be recharged.

Mold Growth

When people think of pollution caused by air conditioners, most of them think of outdoor air pollution. Without proper maintenance, though, your air conditioner can also pollute your home’s indoor air. This happens mainly through mold growth in your HVAC components or ductwork. To prevent mold growth in your ducts, it’s important to have your ducts cleaned every three to five years. This will eliminate any dust that can provide a nurturing environment for mold to grow. The main risk for mold growth in your air conditioner itself is in the condensate tray and drain. Since this area remains moist, it’s important to clean it, making sure to use bleach to kill existing mold and prevent the growth of mold in the future.

Upgrading Your System

When it’s time for a system upgrade, you have a great opportunity to reduce the environmental impact of your air conditioner. By opting for a more efficient system, you can maintain the same comfortable environment in your home and use much less electricity. If you only need to cool certain rooms in your home, opting for a ductless unit instead of a central air conditioner may make sense. This works especially well if you add a new addition to your home or want to cool a separate space, such as a garage. The smaller size of a ductless unit allows you to use less electricity to maintain comfort.

If you want the most efficient system, you’ll want to opt for a ground-source heat pump. These units send the heat from your home into the ground and then use the cooler underground temperatures to cool your home. This results in greatly reduced energy use, thereby reducing the amount of air pollution your system creates.

Ensuring Efficient Operation

If your system isn’t at the end of its service life, the environmentally responsible decision is to leave it in place. At the same time, though, it’s important to take care of your system to ensure it’s not contributing to more air pollution than necessary. One simple way to do this is to replace your air filter when it’s dirty. You might also consider opting for a less dense air filter so that your system can draw air in more easily. Equally as important are the annual maintenance visits from Woodward Heating Air Plumbing. In fact, if you can do two maintenance visits a year, one for the furnace and one for the air conditioner, you’ll be able to keep your system working well and limit your air pollution contributions in the process.

Tracking Your Usage

Another great way to stay aware of potential excess air pollution releases is to track your air conditioner usage patterns. By installing a smart thermostat, you can get daily, weekly, and monthly reports tracking how often you run your air conditioner. This can help you easily see opportunities for improvement to help you only run your air conditioner when it’s absolutely necessary. Plus, if properly configured, a smart thermostat can monitor traffic patterns in your home to automatically turn the system off when it’s not needed. There are a variety of other benefits to smart thermostats that make them more than worthwhile.

Protecting the Environment and Your Comfort

At Woodward Heating Air Plumbing, we are proud to help our customers protect the environment. That’s why we offer complete maintenance, repair, and replacement services for air conditioners and furnaces. To add a little warmth to your home during the winter, we also offer fireplace installation and maintenance services. Plus, we can take care of gas pipe installation, indoor air quality equipment installation, and much more. Since our founding more than 30 years ago, we’ve been working hard to keep our customers completely satisfied. That’s a big reason why we consistently receive five-star reviews. To learn more about reducing your air conditioner’s environmental impact, contact the pros at Woodward Heating Air Plumbing today.

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