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How to make sure our portable air conditioners don't cost the earth

The need to cool down our living/working spaces is not a new one. As far back as ancient Egypt people were already looking for devises able to cool down rooms and buildings during the hot seasons: reeds hung at the windows, water from aqueducts circulated through the walls, the use of cisterns or wind towers and so on. It was with the advances in chemistry in the19th century that the basis for air conditioning as we know it were laid. But at what costs? How do we make sure our portable air conditioners don't cost the earth?

What you really need to know about air conditioners

As with any other home appliance, air conditioners can apparently make our lives easier while contributing to deplete our fragile planet's resources. Although in some areas of the world they may be required as an aid to everyday life, in others they may indeed sum up to unnecessary luxury. In the future smarter, more ecofriendly buildings will incorporated processes and material able to keep internal temperature to living standards, without the use of additional machineries. At this moment in time, though, everybody can, with a bit of care, make the right choice and resort to the most ecofriendly cooling solution. But there is more to it...

Air conditionings infamously hit the spotlight during the 90s, when people were starting to gain consciousness on the irreversible damage our lifestyle was imposing on the environment. The notorious R-22 refrigerant, at the time commonly used in fridges and air conditioning units, was found to emit hydro-chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCS), the main culprits of the ozone layer depletion. The need arose for a less toxic alternative, and it was internationally agreed to switch to the refrigerant R-410A. Although the directives asked for R-22 and other ozone killer refrigerants to be banned and that air conditioning manufacturers create models that use R-410 efficiently, it was only in 2010 that manufacturers actually stopped producing R-22. Therefore units produced before 2010 are considered not up to standard.

When planning to buy portable air conditioners, then, it is worth asking for the most recent and highest energy efficient models. Here are some of the top features to check:

Size:

Make sure you choose the right size portable unit for the size of your room. A unit that is too largewill only consume more energy than is really needed. In terms of a cooling capacity of 7,500 BTU, for instance, you can cover an area of 150 sq-ft, 9,000 BTU for 200 sq-ft, 10,000 for 250 sq-ft and so on.

Self-evaporative technology:

All air conditioning systems create water, and in the case of portable conditioners, this is collected in an internal water tank that requires to be emptied manually. However, in a unit featuring self-evaporative technology the water collected internally is reused to cool down the condensator. This process significantly increases the unit's cooling capacity and energy efficiency, while reducing its running costs.

Energy Efficiency Rating:

The Energy Efficiency Rating, or EER, is a measure of the efficiency with which an appliance uses energy when functioning. In the case of air conditioners, the EER stands for the ratio of total cooling capacity (measured in British thermal units or BTU output) to electrical energy input (wattage). Higher EER value means more efficient units. We suggest yo look at units featuring EERs of 12 or higher.

Make the right choice and don't over-use!

While portable air conditioners may be the right choice for smaller spaces, when considered against industrial air conditioning units, it is in everybody's best interest to make sure that the models we choose for our homes, offices and the likes are up to standard in terms of energy efficiency and the use of non-toxic emissions. For the top, eco friendly solutions, choose the right size for your needs, an EER rating of 12 or higher, and a feature like self-evaporative technology that recycles the water generated by the unit.

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