Switching Between Swamp Cooling And Refrigeration In A Changing Climate

Residents of all states are now facing an upcoming environmental change that will eventually hit them if it hasn't yet: changing humidity boundaries. That means the cooling systems that worked before may not work as well now for at least part of the year, leading to noticeable discomfort at home. It may be time for residents to re-evaluate what they have and what they want in terms of cooling systems.

Current Methods

Residents of humid states and regions like Florida and eastern Texas know that traditional air conditioning -- a.k.a. refrigeration -- is the way to go when they have to combat both heat and humidity. An air conditioning system helps remove moisture from the air running through its system, making the interior of the home feel much more comfortable.

In very dry environments, this can be a double-edged sword. Removing what little humidity there may be can make the interior of the home feel too dry and lead to nasal and skin problems. Many people in these areas turn to swamp coolers, or evaporative coolers, because those use a system that adds humidity back into the air as a side effect of the cooling.

Then there are those lucky coastal people who rely on passive-solar techniques to cool the house without help from any other system.

What's Happening

There are a few issues springing up, especially in the southern half of the country, but really in many other areas as well. The dry line marked by the 100th meridian, where areas to the west are dry and to the east are humid, is moving east by a substantial distance. So far, that boundary has moved an estimated 140 miles east. People who use refrigeration in these regions may not be feeling too bad yet, but if humidity levels begin to reach those found in regions like New Mexico and Colorado, residents could start to notice more issues.

In the west along the coast, especially in Southern California, humidity in summer is increasing. Even if Southwestern Monsoon (a.k.a. North American Monsoon) storms don't reach them, the humidity sure is. People who rely on passive cooling and breezes are finding summer a lot less comfortable.

And in areas where both aridity and humidity are problems, such as southern Arizona, the heat is increasing, making the use of the right type of system all the more urgent.

How to Handle It

People in humid areas that are becoming dry may want to add a humidifier system to their homes. This gives them the option of adding moisture back in without having to turn off their air conditioner.

People in coastal areas may need to add either a dehumidifier system (or get portable dehumidifiers) and think about installing refrigeration. A portable humidifier may also be necessary for those who live in areas affected by Santa Ana winds and the single-digit humidity they bring with them.

People in areas like southern Arizona may want to look at having both systems installed because of the long periods of time that can be subject to one or the other level of humidity. This allows people to keep their homes cool on hot, dry day for less money but still switch when the humid monsoons blow in.

Talk to an AC maintenance company about how to prepare your home for eventual changes in environmental conditions. The right systems help you feel a lot better.