Air conditioners and central air are America’s most popular home cooling system; however, they require more energy and are often less effective than America’s second most popular cooling system: the evaporative air cooler. This article discusses the costs and benefits of evaporative cooling systems so that you can determine whether evaporative cooling is best for your home.
What is a Swamp Cooler?
If you have never heard of an evaporative cooler (often called swamp coolers) here’s how they work: as suggested by the name, evaporative coolers cool homes through the evaporation of water. One must fill his or her cooler with water, place it in a dry environment (either outside of one’s house or in a room with plenty of airflows), and crack open a few windows. As outside air passes through the cooler’s cooling pad, that air loses energy and takes on water vapor. Once a sufficient amount of cool air has been stored in one’s cooler, its pumps kick in and cool air is pumped into the home, and hot, dry air is pushed out of the home’s open windows.
Best Climate for an Evaporative Cooler
Evaporative coolers are more popular in a hot and dry climate for two key reasons. First, constant exposure to dry air causes the skin to crack and wrinkle, and the evaporative cooler fixes this problem. If you want to escape the harsh desert air, avoid an air conditioning unit and install an evaporative cooler. Air conditioners remove moisture from the air and evaporative coolers increase moisture.
Second, an evaporative cooling unit is more effective in dry climates with low humidity. When air is dryer, the rate of evaporation increases. This translates into a cooler house with an outside temperature of 100 Fahrenheit and a 5% humidity level, a swamp cooler will reduce your home temperature to 71 Fahrenheit. However, at an outside temperature of 100 Fahrenheit and a 50% humidity level, the same cooler will only reduce indoor temperatures to 88 Fahrenheit. As a rule of thumb, those that live in humid climates and an average summer humidity level is above 40%, should not purchase swamp coolers.
A Swamp Cooler Costs Less than Air Conditioners
You may also want to consider an evaporative cooler if you’re on a tight budget. The average evaporative cooler uses three to four times less electricity than the average air conditioner, and costs half as much to install. Unfortunately, evaporative coolers come with a hidden cost: they break down more frequently than the air conditioner. If you purchase one, consider a warranty and a swamp cooler maintenance plan.
Swamp Cooler Aesthetic Flaws
Finally, before purchasing a swamp cooler, consider how it will impact your home’s atmosphere and aesthetic. Unlike air conditioners, evaporative coolers provide continuous fresh outdoor air, do not recirculate air, and require open windows. If you enjoy fresh air, you’ll love your evaporative cooler; however, if you’re allergy-prone, this cooler may make your summer unbearable by pushing allergens into your home.
Evaporative coolers are generally considered less aesthetically pleasing than air conditioners. First, central evaporative cooling systems are often installed on a home’s roof; if you do not have a steep roof, all your neighbors will see your cooler. Second, window cooling units are bulkier than window air conditioners. A window evaporative cooler will block off more sunlight than an A/C unit and may interfere with a room’s image. If you live in an area with an average summer humidity below 40% you may want to purchase a swamp cooler. Consider whether the cost you’ll save by choosing an evaporative cooler over an air conditioning system outweighs its aesthetic flaws.
Where to Buy
You can buy a swamp cooler at Amazon or at your local Home Depot or Lowes. They vary in costs depending on how powerful a unit you decide to purchase