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Electrical Costs of Running a Swamp Cooler vs. Refrigerated Air

AC-unit-and-moneySwamp coolers aren’t found in swamps; it’s quite the opposite. A swamp cooler can really only function in a place where the air is dry, which is why most people in our area of the country are somewhat familiar with them. Evaporative coolers are popular in New Mexico for a few different reasons.

  • They tend to cost less to install.
  • They’re often passed on to a new homeowner when a home is sold.
  • In most cases, it costs less to use a swamp cooler (evaporative cooler) than to use a central air conditioner.

In general, swamp coolers do cost less to run that conventional central AC. However, that doesn’t mean that an evaporative cooler is the best choice for New Mexico homes. In many cases, additional costs and struggles mean the hassle of evaporative cooling is not worth it (but the right contractor can help alleviate these issues). We’ll compare those costs here.

Why evaporative cooling costs less

Evaporative cooling can eliminate many of the costs associated with conventional central air conditioning simply because there are fewer moving parts to use up energy. Refrigerated air systems rely on refrigerant to transfer heat from one part of the air conditioner to the other. This requires a compressor, pumps, and a blower motor.

An evaporative cooler only requires water to pump out to the cooling pad. Then, a blower fan does the work. As warm air passes over the cooling pad, it gives off energy to evaporate that water. That energy transfers as heat, which makes the air passing through several degrees cooler than the air outside. Without all of those extra parts working to cool the home, an evaporative cooler has very low energy requirements.

However, there are additional costs to consider

Anybody who owns an evaporative cooler knows there are some struggles involved with using this type of system as the primary air conditioner. For one thing, you don’t have precise temperature controls to ensure comfort, and you may not be getting the temperature you need.

And while you may save energy, lowering monthly costs on this system alone, there are other ways owners of evaporative coolers rack up costs. During a monsoon season, or any time there is more moisture in the air than usual, your evaporative cooler simply will not be able to perform up to standards.

In this instance, many people install window air conditioners, just to use for some temporary relief. But window air units are far less efficient and effective than central air conditioners, and they don’t pair well with evaporative coolers (which require more ventilation).

Often, central air conditioners that use refrigeration for cooling are preferred due to the control and consistency you get—knowing you air conditioner will be reliable at keeping you as cool as you need it. But from a cost perspective, evaporative coolers certainly save the most overall. For more information, talk to a local technician!

Robbins Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. installs and services swamp coolers and central air conditioning systems in Aztec, NM. Call our team today!

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