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In summer, high relative humidity, elevated air temperatures and bright sunshine can sometimes combine to produce an uncomfortable indoor environment. An air-conditioning system can provide comfort for occupants by lowering the air temperature and the humidity level in the home.
Options that are open to the consumer include a room air conditioner, a central air conditioner or a heat pump. The best choice of system will depend on your circumstances; therefore, it is worthwhile taking the time to evaluate your needs.
Does the whole house need to be air-conditioned or would cooling in one or two rooms be sufficient? Room air conditioners offer an effective, low-cost approach to providing comfort in a small space, up to three rooms, with minimum installation effort. Central air conditioners and heat pumps are used to cool the entire space. Central air conditioners are cooling-only products, whereas heat pumps provide winter heating as well. The cost of a heat pump is greater than that of a central air conditioner, which is greater than that of a room air conditioner. The choice between central air conditioners and heat pumps is examined in Natural Resources Canada's booklet Heating and Cooling with a Heat Pump.
If you are currently renting your home or apartment or if you are planning to move in the near future, a significant investment in either a central air-conditioning system or a heat pump probably does not make sense. However, a room air conditioner can be moved with you and re-installed in another residence.
If your home has a central air-duct system and an acceptable place to mount the outdoor unit, installation of a central air conditioner or heat pump should be straightforward.
In bungalows with unfinished basements, the addition of a duct system may be relatively simple and inexpensive, but in other cases, this option is usually expensive and frequently impractical. In these cases, there are two other options for central systems:
There are a number of things that you can do to reduce the need for mechanical cooling in your home, hereby minimizing the capacity and cost of the equipment that you purchase and the amount of electricity that it will consume. Actions you can take to reduce cooling requirements are as follows:
There are several common heat sources in a house.
Becoming informed about all aspects of air conditioning your home is the way to ensure that the correct choices are made for your particular cooling needs. This booklet identifies the commonly available air-conditioning equipment and discusses factors involved in selecting, installing, operating and maintaining an air-conditioning system. It provides you with a sound basis for making a smart purchasing decision.
Source: The Heating and Cooling Series is published by EnerGuide of Natural Resources Canada's Office of Energy Efficiency. EnerGuide is the official Government of Canada mark associated with the labelling and rating of the energy consumption or energy efficiency of household appliances, heating and ventilation equipment, air conditioners, houses and vehicles.
EnerGuide also helps manufacturers and dealers promote energy-efficient equipment and provides consumers with the information they need to choose energy-efficient residential equipment.
Improving energy efficiency reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that contribute to climate change.
By using energy efficiently and making wise consumer choices, you can reduce your individual GHG emissions by one tonne, or about 20%. Like most Canadians, you probably already take steps to conserve resources and protect the environment. Now the One-Tonne Challenge calls on you to make a bigger commitment.