HVAC Hacks: Tips for Novices and New Homeowners

Using Shade To Boost The Function Of Your AC System

Air conditioning is a wonderful invention, but just because you have an AC unit in your home does not mean you are free to ignore age-old methods for decreasing the temperature in a home. For example, using shade strategically can help to keep your home cool, which will decrease the load on your AC unit, and to improve the function of your system. In particular, you should think about how your home can best benefit from evapotranspiration and how shade can optimize the function of your condenser coils. 

What Is Evapotranspiration?

Trees are constantly releasing water vapor into the air through a process known as evapotranspiration. This process can be beneficial to a home in that it will cool the air around your home in the same way that a swamp cooler would. Basically, water vapor absorbs heat from the air, and the cooler air settles down into the area below the tree. While you should have insulation in your home to isolate the climate inside your home from fluctuations in the outside temperature, some heat transfer will occur. Trees can reduce energy transfer and decrease cooling costs. In fact, studies have shown that planting trees along the south and west of a home can reduce cooling costs by up 8%

Why Should You Shade Your Condenser Coils

Condenser coils are made up of thin metal fins which are designed to cool the super-heated refrigerant that flows through them. Direct sunlight can heat up these metal fins and decrease their ability to cool the refrigerant. The condenser fan must first cool these fins so that they can then cool the refrigerant. Planting a tree to shade your condenser coils will block direct sunlight and help to keep your coils cooler. Furthermore, evapotranspiration will help to cool the air in your yard, and when your coils have access to a large volume of relatively cool air, they will function better than when they must contend with already hot air. 

The hotter your home gets, the more your AC unit has to run. Most of the heat gain you have to contend with comes from heat gain through the walls and roof of your home. Using trees to keep the air around your home cooler will help to prevent heat gain and thus keep your home cooler. In fact, you could say that trees are nature's air conditioning unit and using them to your advantage can help to keep your cooling bills more manageable.