May 10, 2020

Touch a button on your thermostat, and before you know it, cold air begins flowing from your vents and cooling down your home. While this process may seem almost like magic, the truth is that there’s a lot of science and engineering involved. Though you probably won’t be stopped on the street and asked how your air conditioner cools your Chesapeake, VA, house, it’s still good to know so that you can more easily troubleshoot any problems that might occur. To shed a little light on the subject, we at Simmons Heating & Cooling will look at whether or not your air conditioner cools your home by bringing in fresh air.

Why Does Air Feel Warm?

To understand how an air conditioner cools the air, you must first understand why air becomes hot in the first place. The large majority of air is indirectly warmed by the sun. As solar energy from the sun strikes the earth’s surface, the surface temperature begins to rise. This process changes solar energy into thermal energy. As this change takes place, the thermal energy in the surface materials is transferred to the air that’s near the surface, which is then transferred to the air molecules that are further away from the surface. This happens until the entire volume of air in a given area reaches a fairly uniform temperature. Thermal energy in the air is stored in the form of kinetic energy. As air molecules are heated, they move more quickly, resulting in greater amounts of friction. This leads to more intense heat.

Additionally, as the molecules move more quickly, they expand, which results in increased air pressure. This compresses the gases in the air, leading to even higher temperatures. When you add humidity in the form of water vapor to the mix, you end up with the warm air you expect to feel during the spring and summer months.

How Do Air Conditioners Cool the Air?

Now that you’ve been given a basic science lesson by Simmons Heating & Cooling, we can explain how an air conditioner overcomes the effects of solar, thermal, and kinetic energy to keep your home cool. The main way your air conditioner accomplishes this task is through the transfer of a pressurized gas, called a refrigerant, via a sealed line that runs both inside and outside of your house. When the refrigerant is outside, the compressor transforms the refrigerant into a high-temperature gas. The heat is then removed in the rest of the outdoor unit as the refrigerant circulates through the cooling fins around the exterior of the unit. Once the refrigerant cools, it turns back into a liquid, and then it is sent inside.

Once inside of your home, the cold refrigerant is sent through an evaporator coil. As the refrigerant travels through this coil, the heat from the air inside of your house is absorbed by the refrigerant while the fast-moving molecules from the inside air excite the slow-moving molecules in the refrigerant, and vice versa. Plus, the humidity in the indoor air condenses on the cold copper of the evaporator coil, thus lowering the “heat index” of the air inside your residence. The cold air is then sent through the ducts, while the warm refrigerant is sent back outside to expel the heat.

This process requires no exchange of air between the indoors and outdoors, as this would simply allow extra heat and humidity into your home after the indoor air has already been cooled and dehumidified. In other words, air conditioners don’t do anything to bring in fresh air from outside.

Trust the Experts

At Simmons Heating & Cooling, we appreciate the science behind what we do. That’s part of what makes us a trusted name in Chesapeake because we understand how your HVAC system works, meaning we can fix it when something goes wrong. However, it takes more than science to make a great company. That’s why our passion, reflected in our commitment to our customers, is the other secret to our success. So, while we can offer a variety of HVAC services, including geothermal installations, backup generators, and quality repairs, installation, and maintenance for your HVAC system, we offer much more than that. We provide the assurance that comes from a company that’s been in business for more than 50. Just take a look at the glowing reviews written by our satisfied customers across a variety of social media platforms.

You can be sure that when you give us a call, you’ll receive our full attention and commitment before, during, and after your project is complete. If you want to learn more about your HVAC system or if you need repairs or maintenance, call us at Simmons Heating & Cooling today.

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