One common alternative to the traditional central air conditioning unit is the evaporative cooler. Many homeowners opt for this option because the units are generally less expensive than central AC, and they also have a lower energy cost. The following tips can help you decide if this is the right option for you, as well as make sure you get the most from the cooler.
Tip #1: Dry Climates Only
As a general rule, evaporative coolers are only a good option in relatively dry climates. If your hot weather tends to be paired with humidity and afternoon thunderstorms, stick to the traditional central AC. This is because an evaporative cooler only works to neutralize the temperature between the outdoors and indoors. It puts moisture into the air to do so. If the air is already full of hot moisture, or humidity, the cooler does little more than move it around like a fan. The result is plenty of air movement but poor cooling.
Tip #2: Don't Forget to Vent
Unlike an AC unit, evaporative units need a reliable and consistent stream of fresh outdoor air to cool your home. This is usually achieved by leaving two windows partially open. The windows should be on opposite sides of the house so that the cooler can draw fresh air through one and force hot air out the other. This also works to limit the amount of humidity that builds up inside of your home, further ensuring optimum functionality of your cooler. If you are worried about open windows, you can have security locks installed so they cannot be opened more than the inch or two required for the cooler. If this still makes you nervous, a traditional AC unit may be a better choice in your situation.
Tip #3: Plan for Regular Cleaning
Due to the moisture in the unit, twice annual cleaning is a must to avoid mildew and algae growth. You can do this yourself or hire an AC technician (like those at Tropic Air Conditioning INC and other locations) to complete the job. During this maintenance the drip trays are drained and cleaned, the reservoir is flushed, and all the old pads and filters are removed and replaced. Hoses are also checked for any algae growth. If mildew and algae is found, the unit may be disinfected with a dilute bleach solution to prevent it from growing back. The best times to perform this maintenance is at mid-season, after your unit has been running for a while, and again at the end of the cooling season before you the cooler down for winter.