Are There Side Effects to Constantly Running Your Air Conditioner?
During the summertime, while running the air conditioning unit may be something you think you can't live without, for many, having it constantly running could be poised to be problematic. If you have a poorly designed or badly maintained AC unit, whether in your vehicle, home or workplace, it could become contaminated and possibly harmful.
Air conditioning accounts for around 10% of global electricity consumption. But, aside from high utility bills, what other potential side effects can constantly running your AC unit cause?
- Health Conditions
Worsening allergies and asthma issues are two health concerns that could result from a contaminated air conditioning unit. Sick building syndrome is another one which is associated with an array of other seemingly unrelated symptoms, like:
- Breathing problems
- Nasal congestion
- Irritated skin
One explanation is there could be certain microorganisms that grow in the unit that could cause some subtle effects on some individuals. However, it's not clear the number of individuals that are sensitive to this or how bad the issue is with it.
Unlike heating units, there's a lot of condensation and moisture in the process of cooling down hot air. This condensation and moisture should be channeled away. If your air conditioner isn't doing a good enough job of this, regardless of whether it's due to a poor design or damage or because of poor maintenance, it could become a breeding ground for fungi and bacteria. So, to protect yourself, you should keep your AC unit routinely serviced and well-maintained.
- Dry Skin and Sore Throat
Long hours spent in AC cooled environments cause moisture loss in your skin, if you're not constantly moisturizing your skin, it could result in dry skin. Sometimes it can even cause your throat to become sore.
- Inability of Dealing With Heat
People who spend a great deal of time in an AC cooled environment can become growingly more intolerant of the temperatures of hot summer. This is primarily caused by stress placed on your body when you're moving to the hot outdoor air from a cool environment. This heat intolerance has led to an increase in heat wave-related deaths, which is now averaging at around 400 fatalities each summer.
- Exposure to Refrigerant
While rare, AC-related refrigeration chemicals could cause health problems. It's a rare situation since these chemicals are typically contained completely within the unit and continually reused, therefore you shouldn't ever come into contact with them.
However, if you have a bad leak or if you're untrained and try to repair the AC, it's possible you could become exposed to the dangerous chemicals and experience AC-related health issues. Always hire a HVAC professional to make repairs or service your unit.
- Adds to the Impact of a Chronic Illness
Central AC systems are known for enhancing the impact of illness that you could be suffering from already. Air conditioning is notorious for increasing symptoms of:
- Low blood pressure
This can make pain management more difficult for individuals who must use air conditioning.
Is There An Alternative?
A good alternative to air conditioning is to use a whole house fan. Whole house fans are capable of cooling your home down quicker than AC units. You don't need to leave a whole house fan on all day either for it to be effective. Plus, if you plan on leaving your home for more than a few hours, you could set your AC at a higher temperature so it only kicks on if it goes past that setting.