When I first moved in to my place in February, the cooling of my house wasn’t the first thing on my mind. But as summer approached I got more and more curious: how was I going to get through a very hot summer with no air conditioning?
The answer was easy. My place came with an evaporative cooler mounted on the roof. I was assured I wouldn’t need anything else to ensure a comfortable summer season.
At first the whole thing seemed kind of primitive. For one thing, it only had two switches: ON and OFF (for the system as a whole) and HIGH and LOW (for the fan within the system which circulates air within my house via ducts in each room). There was no way to “set” the desired temperature. There was no timer to let it know when to get my house cool and when to dial it back a bit.
How does this thing work? I wondered.
It just does. And beautifully I might add.
CONSTANT FLOW & PEACE AND QUIET:
When you turn the system on it continuously blows cool air into your home — none of this on/off/on/off stuff that air conditioners go through and which are very inefficient as far as energy conservation is concerned. And the only way I even notice that it’s on is if I feel the temperature change or walk beneath a duct and feel the air blowing down on me. That’s because it’s operation is virtually silent. Another great advantage over a/c.
FRESH & MOIST:
Unlike air conditioning units, which recirculate air within a closed system – cooling and recooling it and drying it out — evaporative coolers circulate constant fresh air from outside while adding moisture to it in the process. Last summer I spent Palm Springs, where air conditioning units run 24/7 and I woke up every morning with dried skin, chapped lips, and a scratchy throat. None of that happens with my evaporative cooler.
In keeping with the constant flow of air, you can even keep a door or window open while running the evaporative cooler. In fact, it helps to crack a window open an inch or two. That way the fresh air can push out the “old” air. My two cats and my dog Phoenix use a doggy door to go in and out of the house. When I forget to crack open a window and am running the evaporative cooler their doggy door “window” ends up being pushed open with a nice little whistling sound as a result of the air pressure.
Fresh, clean, moist air. What a concept.
ENERGY EFFICIENT & ENVIRONMENT FRIENDLY:
Evaporative cooling systems use about 70% less energy than an air conditioning unit, and they have negligible C02 emissions. The thing runs on water and electricity. There is no freon in an evaporative cooling system, or any other kind of cooling agent other than H20.
Evaporative coolers are cheaper to buy, install, and run than air conditioners. They also need less maintenance. With a simpler system, maintenance is simplified. One quick annual service (I had mine in April for about $50) is all that is needed. No freon recharges, no air filter cleanings or replacements. And by using 70% less energy you can only guess how cheap my electricity bill was all summer long.
THE ONE BIG DRAWBACK:
Evaporative coolers work best in hot and dry areas. This isn’t the type of cooling system you should get if you live in hot and humid Florida. Luckily the Morongo Basin meets these conditions perfectly, with the exception of a few humid days last month when monsoonal type storm clouds dumped rain on our usually dry desert.
Some people say evaporative coolers just don’t work in humid conditions. I found that this was an exagerration. My cooler worked best in hot and dry conditions, but it still managed to make things a bit cooler inside on even the most humid day. With just a handful of days during which these conditions were present, it just wouldn’t make any sense for me to invest in an air conditioning system. For a few days every year? Who needs that expense? Who needs that headache? What kind of man am I if I can’t sit through a humid day or two once every year.