Air conditioning systems keep us cool no matter the hot weather outside. However, they are also frequently criticised for being unhealthy and causing health issues. Many people experience allergy-like symptoms when they turn on the cooling, and other people are concerned that air conditioners simply recycle air. If viruses, bacteria, or airborne particles are lurking in your home, this constant recycling could promote an unhealthy environment.
On the other hand, many studies and articles claim that HVAC systems offer a range of health benefits.
So, what is the truth about healthy air conditioning, and is it possible to achieve healthy air with a cooling unit?
Let’s find out.
According to a study conducted in 2008, contaminated AC units can worsen the condition of people with asthma and allergies. This “sick building syndrome” is a phenomenon comprising various symptoms we are all too aware of; nasal congestion, breathing problems, headaches, fatigue, and even irritated skin.
The problem here is less about the air conditioning itself and more about the contaminants present in the space. The closed-off nature of most air conditioning systems allows contaminants to continually circulate.
As well as this, poorly maintained cooling systems create the perfect breeding ground for microorganisms. This is because the process of cooling hot air creates an ample amount of moisture and condensation.
Individuals who are suffering from an acute or chronic respiratory disease will also be at risk of worsened cold, flu, and allergy-like symptoms when exposed to poorly maintained AC systems or air conditioners that are operating in an unhealthy environment.
Even for completely healthy individuals, very cold air or sudden temperature changes can affect the respiratory system and trigger symptoms.
There are a few other health concerns associated with air conditioning, including:
Some air conditioning systems fail to reduce humidity or even cause it to increase. This usually occurs due to oversized AC units.
High humidity is the perfect environment for bacteria, and dirty air conditioners can quickly spread mould in humid environments.
The more mould, bacteria, and airborne contaminants in your environment, the higher the likelihood of an allergic reaction or cold symptoms.
Poorly designed or malfunctioning air conditioners can also lead to overly low humidity, which triggers dry skin, dry hair, and dry sinuses. This increases the risk of illness in the respiratory system. As well as this, some viruses are more prevalent in low humidity!
An overworked air conditioner is usually the cause of low humidity problems.
Refrigerant chemicals are dangerous to individuals and the environment, but AC refrigerant is usually contained within your air conditioning unit. System leaks can expose you to refrigerant, but even then, the risk remains low as long as you do not attempt to repair AC leaks yourself.
Always leave repairs to the professionals to avoid refrigerant risks.
While air conditioning systems are often maligned for their health risks, these problems are not usually the fault of the system itself. Rather, it is the contaminants present in the air and system neglect that often leads to air conditioning health problems.
On the other hand, air conditioning systems offer a range of direct health benefits.
Studies suggest that HVAC systems increase treatment efficiency and improve patient health outcomes when installed in hospital settings. When installed in the home, you can enjoy the same benefits.
Here are some of the health benefits of air conditioning:
Individuals with immune conditions and heart disease often experience worse symptoms in hot temperatures. Air conditioners reduce heat and alleviate these symptoms.
Heatwaves are becoming more common, leading to dehydration, heatstroke, and a raft of other symptoms. The human body is unable to acclimate to hot conditions so quickly, especially in very young and very old individuals. Air conditioners are highly effective at reducing or even completely preventing heat-related symptoms.
A dirty air conditioner can reduce air quality and cause irritation. However, a system with premium air filtration and ventilation can create healthier air for asthma and allergy sufferers.
When the temperature is too hot, your body cannot naturally cool itself down through homeostasis. This can be especially problematic when you’re trying to sleep. Running the AC can reduce the air temperature and trigger your homeostatic mechanisms. This helps you restore a safe and comfortable body temperature range, meaning you can maintain a natural sleep cycle and enjoy a better night’s rest.
The Brivis Contour™ series is a range of best-in-class evaporative cooling systems. Unlike traditional air conditioners, evaporative coolers do not recycle hot air. Instead of sourcing their air from inside your property, they continuously bring in fresh outdoor air with every cycle.
Evaporative coolers work to reach the ideal temperature by drawing in hot air, pushing it over water-soaked cooling pads, and passing it through air filters. This produces natural, clean, and cool air that circulates throughout your property.
The Brivis Contour range boasts an innovative pre-wet cycle, which ensures the cooling pads are soaked before the fan starts operating. This feature is designed to deliver air that is consistently cleaner and cooler!
Other features of the Brivis Contour range include a low profile design and a range of colours to suit your property, as well as high-efficiency cooling pads and AquaSave technology. This technology can reduce your water consumption by up to 45% compared to conventional evaporative units.
By bringing in new air with every cycle, an evaporative cooler avoids many of the issues associated with traditional air conditioners. Evaporative coolers can also save you money due to their high energy efficiency and environmentally friendly nature. Studies have shown that running evaporative cooling is seven times cheaper than comparable refrigerated systems due to significantly lower energy consumption.
Systems like the Brivis Contour range of evaporative coolers take these health benefits and cost savings to the next level.
So yes, having a well-maintained and eco-friendly evaporative cooling unit can help you achieve healthy indoor air!
Most of the health risks associated with air conditioners come down to poorly designed or poorly maintained systems. With that in mind, here are some additional tips that can create healthier cooling systems, whether you have an evaporative cooler or a refrigerated air conditioner.
When you’re installing a new cooling system, work with a trusted professional who can help you select the best system and the right size for your needs. Systems that are oversized or undersized will result in worse performance, higher running costs, and an increased chance of health problems.
Arrange system maintenance every 2-3 years at a minimum. This will ensure your system is clean and functioning effectively during the hot summer months. AC servicing will reduce the presence of dust and mould and ensure other critical errors aren’t putting your health at risk.
You can arrange air conditioning maintenance or a Brivis evaporative cooling service through Australian Climate Systems.
An issue with your air conditioner or evaporative cooler can quickly become a potential health risk. Whether you need split system air conditioning repair or Brivis evaporative cooling repair, be sure to arrange the services you need at the first sign of trouble.
If your cooling system has ducts, thorough cleaning can reduce the build-up of dust, bacteria, mould, and viruses. You can clean just inside your ducts by vacuuming and wiping down inside the vents. Professional cleaning of the entire ductwork may be required if you have more serious concerns.
The standard filters that come with your system will usually trap dust, but they won’t always stop other contaminants. High-efficiency HEPA filters are the gold standard for trapping smaller airborne particles. While not all systems will be compatible with HEPA filters, it may be worthwhile to explore this option.
As well as investing in quality air filters, you should diligently clean or replace your filters regularly. In environments with more airborne particles (such as certain commercial settings), it is even more important to invest in quality filters that you regularly replace!
If you want healthier heating and cooling, Australian Climate Systems is here to help! Whether you’re looking for healthy air conditioning in Box Hill or Rowville, or evaporative cooling across Melbourne, our team can assist.
We’re one of the most trusted distributors, installers, and service teams for big cooling brands like Brivis and Daikin. Check out our showroom or contact us today on 03 9726 4444 for all servicing and repair enquiries.