Mary and Gary Stevens
Although the weather in Alamogordo (our service area) is pleasant most of the time, the summer heat can be unbearable especially when it's hot and there has been scattered showers in the area for a week or so. This is when most people who have a swamp (evaporative) cooler consider switching to refrigerated air. There is also Spring and Fall when the Alamogordo weather can be a warm sunny day for a week and then bitter cold for two days. If you want a system that keeps a constant temperature no matter what is going on outside this technology is available to you but it must be maintained.
In New Mexico evaporative cooling systems (swamp coolers) which cool the air through the simple evaporation of water are very common. An evaporative cooler is one of the least expensive ways of cooling a home for the following reasons:
In any dry climate, an evaporative cooler can make a home comfortable for much of the year but there can be drawbacks. The first drawback to evaporative cooling is: What if it rains? What if it's really humid for days and then doesn't rain? In many parts of New Mexico, the threat of rain without any actual rainfall can go on for many weeks. In high humidity, no matter how efficiently your evaporative cooler is running it may not be able to provide you with the level of comfort that you desire. In addition, when speaking about your level of comfort, you should know that evaporative coolers only cool the temperature inside your home to approximately ten degrees cooler than the temperature outside your home. So, if it is 100 degrees outside, your evaporative cooler is only cooling down your home to 90 degrees. Is that what you consider comfortable?
Another consideration with regard to an evaporative cooler is that they require a constant supply of water to wet the pads. There are many places in New Mexico where the water is high in mineral content, this can cause a build up on the pads and the interior of the cooler which in turn can cause the system to operate inefficiently or even break down.
Since New Mexico is a desert climate, some localities like Alamogordo have considered measures to discourage the use of evaporative coolers because water, especially in the summer months is in such low supply.
In order to operate an evaporative cooler, you must open windows a window to draw the cool air through the room. With the window open, rain, dirt and pollen can enter your home as well as uninvited people. If security is a concern, window locks should also be installed on any open windows.
Other drawbacks also occur when the unit is improperly maintained or not in use:
Refrigerated air is the removal of heat through the introduction of refrigerated air. Refrigerated air systems will continue to cool your home to the desired temperature, regardless of the humidity outside.
Benefits to a refrigerated air system include:
Drawbacks compared to evaporative coolers:
Seer is the seasonal energy efficiency ratio. This term indicates the relative amount of energy needed to accomplish a specific cooling output (BTUs). When you divide the systems BTU's by its stated SEER rating it tells you how many watts the system is using per hour. If you can determine how many hours your system will operate over the course of a year, then you can approximate how expensive the system is to operate. According to the government's energy saver website (energysavers.gov) “Today's best air conditioners use 30%-50% less energy to produce the same amount of cooling as air conditioners made in the 1970s. Even if your air conditioner is only 10 years old, you may save 20%-40% of your cooling energy costs by replacing it with a newer, more efficient model.”