Air conditioning is a modern marvel that lets you keep your home at a consistently cool temperature when it’s hot outside. More than that, your home’s AC unit can help keep humidity out of your house. However, air conditioners can also hurt the environment. As summers get hotter most years, people find themselves running their air conditioners even more. Unfortunately, this might fuel a cycle that just makes climate change even worse. If you’re wondering whether or not your AC unit hurts the environment, then the truth is that, in some ways, it might. The good news is that you can do something about it.

Energy Consumption

The first way that air conditioners can hurt the environment is simply through their energy use. An air conditioner uses lots of power to work right. If the electricity used is produced by fossil fuel consumption, then that means carbon dioxide is put into the atmosphere. This is also known as a greenhouse gas, which makes the planet’s air retain more of the sun’s heat. Many air conditioners will use anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 watts per hour. Warmer weather means more electricity consumption. That hurts the environment, but it also impacts your monthly utility bill.

Cooling Agents

Air conditioning units are sophisticated machines that use a variety of different components that work together for overall operation. One of those components is the refrigerant or cooling agent. Many older models use chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs. The problem with CFCs was their contribution to the depletion of the ozone layer. Perhaps the world’s biggest international environmental success was the agreement to ban these around the world, and the ozone layer has recovered in the decades since. Modern refrigerants are often hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs. These are much better for the ozone layer, but they’re actually still greenhouse gases and more detrimental overall if they get out.

AC Materials

A lot of air conditioners were made for years using metals. However, metals are cost-prohibitive and weigh a lot. Modern models are more likely to be made out of plastic. That’s a cheaper alternative, and the lower weight might make them a little easier to transport. However, plastic production is very harmful to the environment in terms of resource extraction and energy consumption during the manufacturing process. Plastic is also not biodegradable, and that leaves an environmental footprint well into the future.

Have a Professional Look Things Over

If you want to reduce the environmental impact of your air conditioner, turning it off probably isn’t a good idea for anyone living in your household. However, there are steps you can take, and many of them start with having an industry technician come out for a visit. Routine maintenance should happen at least annually. During a maintenance appointment, a qualified contractor can check for leaks, assess the airflow of the unit, and test the refrigerant pressure.

Look into having your technician install a programmable thermostat. This piece of smart technology can automatically adjust the temperature or even turn off the system when you’re not home. Programming higher temperatures during warm weather can help conserve a lot of power, but it can also do the same for lower temperatures when you have the heat running.

Another thing you should have your technician do is verify that your system is the right size. If your air conditioner is too small, then it’s going to waste power struggling to cool down your house. Alternatively, an oversized system will cool your home too quickly and wind up starting up again frequently. The compressor and start-up sequence uses the most power. In both cases, AC units of improper size will wear down faster and need repairs or replacement sooner, further impacting the environment.

Get a Two-Stage Compressor

As stated already, air conditioners are complex pieces of equipment with many parts, but the compressor is the one component that’s going to use more power than anything else. The compressor squeezes heated vapors out so that cooling agents can go back to being in a cooled state. Two-stage compressors will work less when it’s not as hot, so energy efficiency is a tremendous benefit. A single-stage compressor works at full power all the time, often using more power than is necessary, but a two-stage compressor has multiple gears to reflect current needs. The result is less power consumption overall, and that helps both your power bill and the environment.


Since it’s the sun’s rays and heat that warm things up, one simple way to minimize your AC unit’s environmental footprint is to simply block the sun whenever possible. Curtains, drapes, and blinds can help you keep light from coming through windows into rooms. If you close them off early enough in the day, you might keep them from getting too warm later, so you won’t need your cooling system to run as much. In the state of Georgia, rooms with windows facing south or west are particularly vulnerable to getting more direct sunlight than others.


If you want to run your air conditioner less without turning it off, then getting help from other machines might be something to consider. Fans can be great options in rooms that are especially hot or where people in your home spend a lot of time. A ceiling fan can provide enough air circulation to make a room feel multiple degrees of temperature cooler through the evaporative effect. Tabletop fans or box fans on the floor can also get the air moving around a room enough to help out. That will help you keep from setting your thermostat as low as you might otherwise.

Alternative Power Sources

There’s no getting around the fact that your air conditioner needs power to function, but you might be able to do something about your power source. There are two options to consider here. The first is installing renewable power production on your property, such as solar panels, a hydroelectric dam, or geothermal technology. That’s not always physically feasible, however. Your other option is to contact your power utility and see if they produce any power from green sources, be it solar, wind, or hydroelectricity. You might be able to set your utility up to use only green energy or at least some when it’s available.

Get Professional Help

The availability of affordable and effective residential air conditioning is one of the reasons why many people have moved from the industrial northern states to sunnier states, such as the Peach State. While HVAC is a convenience in some places, it’s practically a necessity in Norcross, GA. Your home needs it to stay cool, comfortable, and safe for much of the year, but it might also be hurting the planetary environment. However, there are steps you can take to minimize this. Do what you can, but also turn to our professionals at Bardi Heating, Cooling & Plumbing for your heating, air conditioning, plumbing, and indoor air quality needs. You can trust us to help you manage your environmental footprint and your budget at the same time. Contact us today to learn more.

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