Global warming has caused alarm among the scientific community. It has brought damage to the polar regions, melting ice at an unprecedented rate. Sea levels have risen as a result and climates have been slowly changing across the world. The blame can be traced to greenhouse gases which have damaged the ozone layer, Earth’s natural shield against UV radiation. Some have pointed to HVAC systems as being partly responsible for the damage. Do HVAC systems emit greenhouse gases?
CFCs: The Unintentional Culprit
Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Air conditioners work by having a refrigerant cycle through the system, dumping heat outside and cooling the air inside. There was a time when the dominant refrigerant was chlorofluorocarbon or CFC. Products based on this were effective for their purpose but they had an unintended result. When leaked into the atmosphere, they reach up to the ozone layer and destroy the molecules they encounter. There emerged a hole in this protective layer which gradually grew in size until it almost covered an entire continent. Governments scrambled to regulate CFC use to control the situated.
HCFCs: The Lesser Evil
Halogenated CFCs were invented to replace CFCs as the default refrigerant. This was found to be less damaging to the ozone but it still isn’t the benign solution that people were hoping for. While scientists looked for a permanent solution, HCFCs were pushed into the market to mitigate the damage. This strategy, along with other tactics, was able to produce significant gains. The hole is no longer as big as it was before. However, more must be done to completely close it again. HCFCs will soon make way for a better alternative in the succeeding decades.
Other Methods of Reducing Emissions
Apart from upgrading to a system which uses HCFC, people can choose units that have the Energy Star logo to help reduce greenhouse gases. These models have been judged by the Environmental Protection Agency as being highly efficient and will thus consume considerably less energy than other products on the market. Improving insulation is also recommended.