"I do hate air conditioning and early mornings, but my friends all know this and plan accordingly."
Carole Radziwill, Journalist
The use of air conditioning is pretty common in many countries on our planet.
Especially in hot summers, air conditioning can improve the quality of millions or even billions of people on our planet.
However, even though air conditioning has several important advantages, it also implies some problems. In this article, the pros, cons and alternatives of air conditioning are examined.
Especially for hot summer days, air conditioning can vastly increase productivity levels. For instance, imagine you are sitting in an office and it is quite hot inside. Chances are that your productivity level will be quite low since you are not mentally ready for demanding work since you suffer from the heat and wish you were home in your pool.
Thus, by using air conditioning, the room temperature can be cooled down and it will be much more pleasant to work in such an environment, which will also translate into a higher productivity and quality of work.
In extreme cases, a lack of air conditioning in hot summer days may even lead to heat strokes. Especially for older people, extreme heat is a serious danger and those people urgently need air conditioning to stay healthy.
This is also true for younger people who suffer from any kind of physical health problem. Therefore, for certain groups of people, it is crucial to cool down air temperature in order to avoid heat strokes or other adverse health issues.
People often do not drink enough while they are at work since they are often stressed and have many other things to do. However, this might lead to serious dehydration, especially if it is quite hot in the office since the body needs even more water in those environments.
Therefore, using air conditioning could mitigate the dehydration problem to a certain extent, even though people still have to make sure to drink enough.
Having air conditioning is also quite convenient. You just have to turn it on and it will only take a few minutes until you will enjoy a fresh breeze. For people who greatly suffer from the heat, the use of air conditioning can vastly improve their quality of life. They just have to press one button on the air conditioning remote and they will soon be relieved from the pain related to extreme heat.
Depending on the air conditioning model, the use of air conditioning can also help against many types of allergies. In good air conditioning devices, the air is filtered and pollen and other things that might cause allergies are filtered out of the air. Since people do not have to open the window while using air conditioning, allergy sufferers will be better protected against particles that might cause allergic reactions.
Air conditioning may also be a tool to mitigate the effects related to asthma. Since many air conditioning devices are able to filter dust and other particles out of the air, people inside buildings that are equipped with air conditioning will likely have fewer problems with asthma compared to people who don’t have air conditioning and therefore have to open the windows in order to get fresh air.
Extreme heat often stresses peoples’ nerves. Thus, using air conditioning may cool down the emotions and there may be less disputes or even physical attacks due to the use of air conditioning devices. This may also imply that crime rates will be lower due to the use of air conditioning.
Electronic devices are also quite sensitive to extreme heat. This is especially true when it comes to server rooms which produce high levels of heat and need proper cooling in order to function well. Thus, especially in those rooms, excessive heat can be quite dangerous since the servers may just break down. Therefore, it is crucial to cool such rooms with proper air conditioning and also through further cooling systems.
The use of air conditioning can also be regarded as kind of protection against insects. Since people do not have to open the window due to the use of air conditioning, insects will not be able to enter the room. This is especially important for people who are allergic to insects like bees since they could suffer from serious health issues due to bee stings.
Due to the global warming issue, air conditioning will become even more crucial in the future. Since the average air temperature will increase, people may suffer even more due to a lack of air conditioning and at one point in time, the productivity without the use of air conditioning will drop to almost zero. Thus, it is crucial to prepare for the future and to install proper air conditioning in as many office buildings and homes as possible.
One important problem of air conditioners is that they are often a breeding ground for all kinds of bacteria.
If those air conditioning systems are not cleaned properly on a regular basis, chances are that they transform to health hazards which could contaminate the air with bacteria and other harmful germs.
Therefore, especially for people who are vulnerable to all kinds of infections, the use air conditioning may cause severe health problems.
Air conditioners may also weaken the immune system of some people. The body of people is sometimes not able to deal with huge swings in temperatures appropriately and the immune system may suffer due to that. A weak immune system may increase the chance for all sorts of diseases. Thus, keep in mind that using air conditioning may not be beneficial to your health at all.
Especially if air conditioning systems are used in an excessive manner, chances are that they might be quite harmful to the circulatory system of many people.
Some people may even suffer from a collapse since their circulatory system may break down due to the huge swings in temperature.
Therefore, you should always make sure to only use the air conditioning system in a moderate manner so that the swings in temperature can be confined.
Some people may also experience what is referred to as air conditioning sickness. Since air conditioners alter the air to a certain extent, some people may feel uncomfortable due to those altered conditions. For quite sensitive people, this could result in dizziness, headaches or general discomfort.
Depending on the air conditioner, the use of these air conditioning systems may also cause significant indoor air pollution. This is especially true when the air conditioner is not cleaned on a regular basis.
Through the use of dirty air conditioning systems, high levels of dust and other harmful particles may enter the room, which can result in serious health issues, especially for people who are allergic to those particles.
Air conditioning systems are often also quite energy-consuming. Over the course of a year, large amounts of electricity have to be used in order to cool down our homes and our offices. This energy could be used for different purposes and air conditioning systems are considered to be rather eco-unfriendly due to their high energy consumption.
Air conditioning systems are not only rather costly regarding the initial purchase price, but also the operating costs can be significant due to high energy consumption. Thus, over the course of many years, the costs of air conditioning systems can be enormous and everyone should ask him- or herself if it is worth it or not.
The use of air conditioners can also be bad for our skin. If air conditioning systems are excessively used, our skin may dry out and people whose skin is especially sensitive may experience some skin issues due to the use of air conditioning.
Since air conditioners need plenty of energy to work properly, they also contribute to the global warming issue. In our nowadays world, the majority of electricity is still generated through the use of fossil fuels. However, in the combustion process of fossil fuels like coal, oil or gas, large amounts of greenhouse gases are emitted into the air. Therefore, the use of air conditioners also implies speeding up the global warming issue.
Since in many air conditioners, HCFCs are used, the use of air conditioning may also imply a certain level of ozone depletion. HCFCs are substances that are known to be harmful for our ozone layer and the depletion of the ozone layer may lead to serious health issues for humanity. Thus, when using air conditioning systems, we should at least make sure that the amount of HCFCs that is used in those systems is minimized.
Since air conditioning systems are quite vulnerable to breakdowns and to other issues, the maintenance efforts and costs can be significant. It also depends on the model. Some manufacturers are known to produce high-quality air conditioning systems, while other brands are considered to produce cheap low-quality models.
Thus, when it comes to buying an air conditioning system, make sure to choose a high-quality model in order to minimize the maintenance efforts. This will not only save you some nerves, but may also pay off in the long run, even if the initial purchase price might be higher.
There are several alternatives to the use of air conditioning systems. One is to use fans instead. Even though fans do not actually lower the room temperature, they still provide a certain kind of cooling effect. Some people may even prefer the feeling of a fan over the use of air conditioning since it feels more natural to them.
It is also crucial that you dress according to the weather conditions. For instance, make sure not too wear warm clothing when it is quite hot outside. Instead, try to wear light clothes. This may make your life much more comfortable, especially on hot summer days.
You could also ask your boss at work if it is ok to dress more casual due to the heat. In many cases, he or she will accept it and you may feel much more comfortable at work as well.
In order to keep your room temperature at a moderate level, make sure to shut down your roller blind or your curtains. By blocking the sun, window glasses will not heat up too much and the increase of inside air temperature will only increase to a certain extent but will not increase to an extreme level in most cases.
This is probably one of the most important measures to keep the room temperature at a moderate level. However, many people mess this up. You should only air your rooms or your office at night or in the early morning.
After that, never open your window again during the day. Since the air outside will be quite hot, opening the window will not improve your situation at all but may even worsen it since hot air will enter the room.
Many people not only suffer from the heat in summer, but also from the high humidity levels. Thus, another alternative to conventional air conditioning is to use dehumidifiers. By using those devices, the humidity levels inside rooms can be lowered, which may result in a more comfortable working and living conditions.
From time to time, it may also be nice to get a cool drink in order to get relief from the heat. Even though this is not a measure that would consistently help you against hot temperatures, it will give you a temporary break and may motivate you to get back to work or to do your household with more energy.
Another measure to keep the room temperature to a moderate level is to only use lighting that does not emit large amounts of heat. For instance, older light bulbs often still emit large amounts of heat into the room.
By switching from those old lighting systems to newer versions like LEDs, the room temperature could be lowered to a certain extent and also plenty of energy could be saved.
For a comfortable sleep, it is also crucial to switch your bedding to a quite light version so you will not be sweating too much in hot summers. You could even consider to sleep naked in order to lower your body temperature.
Since cooking is a significant source of heat, in hot summers, you should refrain from cooking warm dishes and rather rely on salads or other cold foods instead. By doing so, you could keep the air temperature to a moderate level. Moreover, without cooking, there will be less need to air your home since there will be less unpleasant smell.
Air conditioning has many important advantages. However, there are also some problems related to it. You should take all the pros and cons into account before making a buying decision. If air conditioning is worth it to you depends on your individual preferences.
However, also keep in mind that the average air temperature will increase in the future due to global warming and if you are building a house right now, you might want to install an air conditioning system to secure a high level of comfort in the long run.
About the author
My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people of all ages about our environmental problems and how everyone can make a contribution to mitigate these issues.
As I went to university and got my Master's degree in Economics, I did plenty of research in the field of Development Economics.
After finishing university, I traveled around the world. From this time on, I wanted to make a contribution to ensure a livable future for the next generations in every part of our beautiful planet.
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