Air Conditioning has become part of our everyday lives. Whether it be at home, work, school, childcare, gym, shop centre, movie theatre, or just about any indoor space, chances are you’ll find an air conditioner in use. The air conditioner unit may be clearly visible on the wall or in the window, hidden in the ceiling as a ducted aircon, or the whole unit may be out of sight in the case of a rooftop packaged unit or central air conditioning system.
We are aware of its existence, but rarely stop to think about how and why air conditioning can be beneficial. If you do, you may come up with few reasons, such as keeping you cool and comfortable in summer, or warming you up in the winter in the case of a reverse cycle air conditioner. These are certainly great features of an AC system.
However, there are many more benefits and uses for air conditioning that affect just about every aspect of our lives. Home environment and lifestyle, illness and disease prevention, workplace health and safety, equipment and history preservation, animal management and economic growth are just some of the many reasons why air conditioning is so good.
If you would like to know more about some of the key benefits and uses for air conditioning, please make yourself comfortable (switch the aircon on if needed) and read on. Some of these benefits may surprise you.
Air conditioning can literally save your life. If this isn’t reason enough to have an air conditioner in your life, what is?!
Heatwaves are one of Australia’s deadliest natural events as they increase the number of heat-related deaths that occur. The elderly, ill, and very young are most at risk. Heat cramps and heat exhaustion are two examples of issues that can occur if the body overheats for too long. If untreated, they can lead into life-threatening heatstroke. Leading health authorities identify lack of air conditioning as a risk factor for this deadly condition.
Over this past year, there have already been over 2000 heat-related deaths in Australia. Cooling from an air conditioner unit can help treat heat exhaustion and prevent deadly heatstroke and other heat-related illnesses from occurring.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the tragic sudden and unexplained death of a baby under the age of 1 year old. Overheating and low ambient temperature are two key risk factors for SIDS that air conditioning can help to manage.
The cause of SIDS is thought to be complex, multifaceted, and unable to be attributed to a single factor, hence why it is defined as unexplained. Most deaths occur during sleep so it used to be called “crib death”. There are many risk factors identified and all parents can do is manage the risks as best as possible to prevent the worst from happening. Thermal stress is associated with many risk factors believed to contribute to SIDS.
Air conditioning can help manage thermal stress indoors and most importantly in the room in which a baby sleeps. Most parents would agree that protecting your child is the important thing in the world.
Chronic Disease Management
Extreme heat can be dangerous for anyone, but even more so for people with ongoing medical conditions. This sees air conditioning play a vital role in chronic disease management.
Firstly, certain chronic medical conditions can be a risk factor for heat-related illness. Secondly, they can be made worse by being too hot or too cold and require precise temperature and humidity control. This includes but is not limited to heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), multiple sclerosis (MS), diabetes, obesity, and hypertension. Thirdly, people with chronic health conditions may take medication that exacerbates the effect of heat on the body. Fourthly, people with certain chronic diseases are less likely to sense and/or respond to temperature changes.
The result? A dangerous combination of risk factors and many good reasons to have an air conditioner unit in play. It’s worth noting that an AC system is not going to be much use in chronic disease management unless routine air conditioning maintenance is carried out to keep it in good working order.
Chronic Disease Prevention
Not only can an air conditioner help manage chronic disease, it can also help reduce the chance of it developing in the first place. The prevention of sick building syndrome plays a key role in achieving this.
Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems play a vital role in eliminating and/or managing causes of sick building syndrome and subsequent chronic disease development. This includes but is not limited to air filtration, exhaust ventilation, moisture management, and biological contaminant reduction (including pathogenic bacteria, mould, fungi and viruses).
The design, use, and maintenance of HVAC systems all play a role in chronic disease reduction. Neglecting any of these key aspects can negate efforts in other areas. For example, a suitable HVAC system installed and used correctly can still contribute to long-term condition development if commercial air conditioner servicing is not carried out in accordance with relevant standards.
Acute Illness Prevention
Chronic conditions aside, air conditioning can help prevent short-term illnesses. Acute illnesses can be the first sign that your home or workplace is not as “healthy” as it should be.
Acute symptoms of sick building syndrome include, but is not limited to, headaches, stuffy nose, burning eyes, itchy throat and even difficulty breathing. Incorrect air conditioner installation and usage can also lead to a range of issues including dehydration, muscle and joint aches, decreased blood flow and white blood cell circulation, skin disorders, respiratory diseases, immunological responses, and bacterial or viral infections, just to name a few.
A suitably maintained air conditioner can help keep mould, moisture, and pollutants at bay within an indoor environment. Timely inspection and repair of aircon units is also vital to detect and resolve refrigerant gas leaks if/when they arise, as the gas is hazardous to human health in the short and long term.
A carefully selected air conditioner could well be an allergy-sufferer’s best friend. This is especially true of hay fever-sufferers come the start of Spring, or asthma-sufferers all year round.
Allergies affect one in five people in Australian and New Zealand. Asthma and hay fever are two well-known conditions resulting from an allergy. Common allergens include moulds, dust mites, pollen, insects and pet dander or hair. Air conditioning systems can help manage the presence of and/or circulation of all these allergens. Furthermore, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems play a role in ozone management indoors. Ozone exposure exacerbates pre-existing lung conditions (such as asthma), increases the likelihood of an asthma attack and may even contribute to the development of asthma.
By helping to manage allergens and ozone within an indoor environment, air conditioning can create a safe haven for allergy-sufferers. Allergic reactions can range from mild to life-threatening, so allergy management is a significant benefit that comes with owing an air conditioner or occupying an air-conditioned space.
Fresh Air Provision
The introduction of fresh air into an indoor space is not only desired but required for survival of the living species within it. The human species may be of greatest interest, but fresh air for pets and other indoor animals is another reason why air conditioning is good.
Air conditioning often refers to the complete heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system within a building. The intentional movement of fresh air to the interior is commonly integrated with the heating and air conditioning system, although it can also be separate. Mechanical ventilation has many benefits over natural HVAC methods, including increased control over fresh air provision, air temperature, and humidity.
Fresh air intake is designed to provide healthy breathable air and dilute organic and inorganic compounds found indoors. This is just one of the reasons why air conditioning has become an integral part of our everyday lives.
Ventilation, as part of an air conditioning and heating system, not only dilutes pollutants inside a building but can also remove them. This is a key component of any heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system.
Exhaust fans can be used to pull out airborne pollutants and particles, as well as heat and moisture, from the inside to the outside atmosphere. Common indoor pollutants include carbon dioxide (CO2) and carbon monoxide (CO), ozone, smoke, dust particles, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as formaldehyde, compounds from outgassing, and pathogens including mould spores, bacteria and viruses. Furthermore, reverse cycle air conditioning can eliminate the need for other heating methods associated with CO poisoning, such as gas heaters (e.g. if unvented), furnaces or boilers (e.g. if flues are damaged or incorrectly sized).
Mechanic HVAC can be beneficial over natural methods in commercial settings as it allows greater pollutant management and air quality control. Air conditioners can also be multi-purpose devices and safer than many alternate methods of heating.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and other leading health bodies acknowledge that poor ventilation increases the risk of transmitting coronavirus (including the current SARS-CoV-2, “COVID-19”). However, there is more to the story.
We’ve talked about the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) benefits of pollutant removal. Coronavirus is one very relevant pollutant that air conditioning can help remove from a building via ventilation. The WHO have further recommended avoiding the use of fans in rooms occupied by more than 1 person, as a fan increases the spread of the virus around the room. With no fan, air conditioning may be essential to circulate air indoors in a way that isn’t conducive to coronavirus spreading. Furthermore, air conditioning can provide suitable climate control and help prevent the development of conditions that promote the growth and survival of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
A significant amount of research has been conducted over the past year into the relationship between COVID-19 and air conditioner units, with plenty more research still to come.
So far one thing is clear; a well-maintained air conditioning and ventilation system can help reduce the spread of and chance of catching coronavirus.
Air conditioning can not only help prevent the growth, survival and spread of infection diseases, but it can also help to manage and contain the disease when people are in isolation.
Aside from Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (including COVID-19 and SARS), communicable diseases requiring isolation. This includes infectious tuberculosis, cholera, diphtheria, small pox, yellow fever, viral hemorrhagic fevers (including Ebola), and even the plague. The ability to control airflow path is critical while housing such patients in isolation; air must flow in one direction only (i.e. from where a patient is to an area where no one can be contaminated). Mechanical ventilation, typically incorporated into a heating and air conditioning system, allows this control.
Complete heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are critical in infection control and are often run continuously to maintain their function. Correct design, usage, maintenance, and management of these systems is critical. Failure in any of these areas will see system performance compromised and the risk of disease transmission increased.
Air conditioning units are advancing every year. An example of such technology is air purification technology incorporation into an air conditioner.
Air purifiers are like cleaners for the air, sanitizing the air, but they can be quite costly and space-consuming. By integrating additional cleaning aspects into an air conditioner unit, you can benefit from improved indoor air quality from the one existing device. Air purification can be added in the form of ionisation filtration in home air conditioners or high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters in commercial air conditioning systems. These collect particles that standard air filters would miss, including smoke, fine dust, pollen, odours, vapours, and micro-organisms.
Sleep is something we never seem to be able to get enough of; The recommended 8 hours a night seems like a dream to many. Fortunately, the cooling effect produced by an air conditioner has been proven to help us achieve a better night’s sleep.
The body needs to cool down in order to enter into sleep, which an air conditioner can help facilitate. On the other end of the ideal temperature range for sleep, an air conditioner can heat up a room and maintain a steady temperature to enable deep sleep cycles to occur. Airflow and sound management facilitated by an air conditioner are further benefits of air conditioning that support deeper, longer, and more peaceful sleep.
Sleep improvement is a well-known benefit of air conditioning. Improved sleep in turn has a whole range of benefits including better health, improved mood, and enhanced quality of life.
It can be hard to find the motivation to exercise at the best of times, let alone on a hot, humid day. Air conditioning can create a climate-controlled indoor space that supports effective and safe exercise.
It is known that cooler climates around the world are conducive to exercise. The same goes for indoor climates. An air conditioner cannot only provide a cooler indoor environment that you would want to exercise in, it also makes it safer to do by reducing the risk of overheating. This is especially important for the elderly, ill and overweight. Air conditioning also helps sweat evaporate faster by dehumidifying the air, allowing greater exercise capacity and duration.
Exercise itself has a huge range of well-known benefits, from physical health to psychological well-being. Air conditioning supports engagement in exercise by creating a suitable indoor environment.
Family & Social Life Supportive
Humans are naturally social creatures, so family life and social support are important in our everyday life. An air conditioner can help bring family and friends together in a number of ways.
By installing a home air conditioner, it is possible to create a comfortable, climate-controlled environment where the family and friends will want to hang out and interact. It’s hard to have a happy family gathering of any description when everyone is either dripping in sweat or shivering to keep warm. Similarly, having aircon in public spaces entices people to visit and encourage in social interaction. Air-conditioned shops and cinemas in particular see increased visitors on hot days.
Having air conditioning at home or in public places can facilitate a healthy, happy family life. Aircon can also support your social life, and all the benefits that that can bring.
Like it or not, air conditioning can be good at enhancing your status. While owning an air conditioner may be increasingly common these days, it is still somewhat of a luxury and comes with a certain status.
Air conditioning isn’t free (unless you still live at home, rent free…). It requires money to purchase an air conditioner and/or arrange for an AC installer to put it into your home, organisation or commercial workplace. Then there is the cost of maintenance, repairs and energy usage.
Status is often associated with monetary wealth. As a result, investing money in the purchase, installation, service, and usage of an aircon is a good way to enhance status.
Mental Health Promotion
Mental health refers to a state of well being where we can cope with the normal, everyday stresses in life and contribute to society. Air conditioning can improve mental health in many direct and indirect ways.
Temperature regulation, sleep enhancement, exercise promotion, social and family life engagement, and workplace morale are just some of the benefits mentioned in this article that contribute to mental health. Over and above feeling irritable or cranky, air conditioning can also impact violent behaviour and psychiatric conditions, including domestic violence and suicide. Furthermore, people with certain mental illness, such as schizophrenia, have underlying impairment to their ability to thermo-regulate, further aggravating the effects of hot weather.
While mental health is complex and multifaceted, air conditioning can certainly help promote good cognitive health at all levels. If you or someone you know is struggling in any way, please contact lifeline at any time.
Pets can bring us a great deal of joy, provide companionship, improve mental health, and teach responsibility. Pets are often considered part of the family, so naturally pet owners take them into consideration in regard to the indoor air-conditioned environment.
While you are at work, school, or out and about for the day, the home can heat up to extreme temperatures, especially in the middle of the day. Prolonged exposure to this heat causes an animal’s body to overheat. This causes heat-related illnesses similar to that experienced by humans. In the most severe case, overheating can lead to heatstroke and death. Pets with existing heart and respiratory conditions are at even greater risk. Air conditioning can provide thermal control for pets required to stay indoors.
Dogs, cats, birds, mice, hamsters, and other furry or feathered friends are most at risk of heat-related ill health. An air conditioner unit can be good at ensuring their thermal comfort and safety when you are not there to monitor the indoor conditions.
While we can choose to keep animals in our homes (i.e. pets), some animals are not welcome. As well as protecting the chosen ones, air conditioning can help keep unwanted animals out.
Running an aircon allows for doors and windows to be closed-up without adversely affecting comfort levels indoors. This avoids openings in a building that would otherwise allow animals to enter. Such animals include ants, flies, mosquitos, cockroaches, geckos, lizards, snakes, mice, rats, and just about any other animal you can think that would be considered a pest if it came indoors. Furthermore, an air conditioner serviced regularly controls dust mites who like warm, damp conditions.
While some non-human creatures are welcomed into our homes, others are best kept away. Air conditioning is good at preventing the entry of pests and allowing them to make themselves at home.
Animals are not the only unwanted visitors in your home or business premises. Air conditioning can help keep out all kinds of intruders.
While it is nice to open the windows from time to time, sometimes this may not be suitable for security or safety reasons. Leaving a window or door open can increase the chance of intrusion into a home or commercial building, whether it is occupied or not. Air conditioning can be good at increasing security, as it allows for buildings to be closed-up and secured to keep intruders out.
While there is a need for some outdoor air to enter indoor spaces, there are safer ways of achieving this. This is just one reason why mechanical ventilation as part of an air conditioning system is often chosen over natural methods in commercial and even residential settings.
Noise exposure can affect your ability to sleep, rest, and simply have a conversation. A modern-day air conditioner can help with noise reduction, as they are no longer the noisy machines they once were.
Air conditioner units have become quieter than ever with AC technology constantly evolving. Meanwhile our roads, suburbs and cities are getting busier and busier, louder and louder.
By being able to close-up windows and doors and run air conditioning inside, a quieter, more peaceful indoor environment is created. This can reduce common noise-related issues such as headaches, fatigue, irritability, and stress.
Noise is common concern for people at home and at work, which can impact your health in many negative ways. Thoughtful air conditioning design, installation, maintenance, and usage can help reduce noise and create a more peaceful, healthy living environment.
Building Code Compliance
Buildings must comply with stringent building codes designed to protect the occupants of the resulting structure. Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are an integral part of building infrastructure.
The Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) and Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air conditioning and Heating (AIRAH) have teamed up to produce a 133 page document, titled Indoor Air Quality Handbook.
This outlines key considerations such as ventilation, pollutant management and fresh air provision. The ABCB is designed to deal with issues related to building safety, health, amenity, accessibility, and sustainability in relation to the design and performance of buildings in line with the National Construction Code (NCC). Meanwhile, AIRAH is an independent technical organisation set up to provide leadership, representation, promotion, and support to the HVAC industry. The combination of the two organisations and production of such a document highlights the important role of HVAC systems in building code compliance.
Not only can air conditioning systems be a comfort-creating addition to a building, they are often essential in order to meet building codes. These codes exist to ensure residential and commercial structures are safe and healthy for us to live and work in.
Workplace Health & Safety (WH&S) Compliance
Employers have a duty of care to ensure the health and safety of their employees in the workplace. Air conditioning is often vital to ensure appropriate conditions for workers.
Aside from indoor air quality, which is obviously important, air conditioning can improve other areas of the workplace. This includes but is not limited to temperature regulation, humidity control, airflow regulation, and variable climate control to meet personal preferences or requirements. A well-maintained air conditioning system can also reduce the spread of disease and help stop the growth of disease-causing pathogens in the first place.
Air conditioning can be a tool to help create the ideal environment indoors. It can also form part of an everyday risk management plan and ensure WH&S compliance.
After building code compliance and workplace health and safety (WH&S) is achieved and maintained, the next step is to preserve the physical building. Air conditioning can help with building preservation in several ways.
Air conditioning systems help to control moisture, which affects the health of a building as well as that of humans. Failure to control moisture can lead to damp, mould, mildew and dust mites, which can accelerate the rusting of metal building components and destroy wooden components. Furthermore, high and unconditioned indoor humidity levels can facilitate outgassing of toxic compounds from various building components that can damage the building as a whole.
An air conditioner can help control one of the most important and often unrecognised pollutants; moisture. This helps to preserve a building structure, both directly and indirectly.
Aside from the building itself, there is typically contents within a building that hold value and function. Air conditioning can be considered part of the building or as part of the contents (depending on the type, installation method, and opinion of your insurance company); Either way, there are many reasons why aircon is so good in this case.
Temperature and moisture control is essential for electrical equipment including computers, phones and printers. Overheating can cause data loss, equipment failure, and pose a fire risk. Commercial server and data rooms often have a dedicated air conditioner running 24/7 for this reason. Furthermore, furniture is vulnerable to heat and humidity damage. Whether it be a combination of factors wrapping wood or moisture rotting leather, air conditioning can control these conditions. Artwork and pieces of history are other valuable items that requires precise climate control to ensure their protection and preservation.
Just about any item in your home, workplace or organisation can benefit from some form of air conditioning, whether it be based on the temperature, humidity, airflow, or combination of factors. If you consider the value of items, conditioning the air around them can indeed be a good idea.
Further to creating a climate-controlled environment for the storage of your clothing, air conditioning can preserve your clothes by reducing the need for washing. Who wouldn’t want to do less laundry?!
Think of a hot day, you’re somewhere with no aircon, and start to sweat. Can you imagine, or do you remember, sweat staining the underarm and other areas of your shirt or attire? Increased sweating results in increased laundry. This increases the use of chemicals added in the washing process, as well as water usage. Some stains may need pre-soaking or stain remover application, further increasing the chemical load on your clothing, which damages the fabric over time. Furthermore, an air conditioner unit can help clothes dry faster when hung indoors is it dehumidifies the air. This reduces the time they spend being wet, which protects fabrics from damage, rot, and mould.
While not immediately obvious, air conditioning can protect and maintain your clothing in a range of ways. This is just one of the many often unrecognised benefits of having an air conditioner.
Code compliance and physical preservation aside, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems can enhance a building in terms of interior design and aesthetics.
The assembly of air conditioning, heating, and ventilation components to achieve their function can occur in seemingly endless ways. Location, type, size, shape, colour, finish, exposure, etc., the list goes on! For example, exposed ductwork has become a trendy building enhancement for those seeking the industrial look. The style of air outlets can also vary dramatically and create classic lines or aesthetically-pleasing detail.
While aircon function has its place, form and style are also key benefits that can come with having AC in your home or workplace. Interior design and a place for air conditioning cannot be underestimated in relation to building enhancement.
Productivity can be one of the primary goals of a business owner in relation to their staff. While there are lots of angles involved in productivity enhancement, air conditioning is certainly one of the winning methods to help achieve this.
Air conditioners can increase worker productivity in a range of ways. Science has proven that temperature and humidity have a direct impact on employee productivity. AC helps keep staff awake, alert, comfortable, and improve their mental state. Not only can the aircon create an indoor environment conducive to work, it can also boost morale by showing employees that they are worth the investment of an air conditioner. Furthermore, air conditioning can help reduce health problems (acute and chronic), reducing the number of sick days taken.
There are many ways to boost employee productivity, and the resulting benefits to a company can be enormous. With that in mind, most smart business owners recognise that the benefits of air conditioning far outweigh the cost of unit installation, AC servicing, and aircon usage.
Facilitating productive employees, as discussed, would naturally lead to business growth; Happier, healthy staff are more likely to go the extra mile and help grow a business. However, there are additional ways in which air conditioning can help a business grow.
Having an air conditioner in the workplace can entice customers to come to you. For example, air-conditioned shopping centres and movie theatres see booming trade on hot days. Customers are more comfortable and therefore stay longer. It also shows that you care about the customers’ comfort, which can go a long way with a consumer.
Air conditioning can help grow a business in different ways. It is just one of the reasons why air conditioning is worth the investment.
While this may not immediately come to mind, job promotion and support is a valuable benefit associated with air conditioning. This is particularly relevant following devastating job losses following the most recent coronavirus pandemic.
Air conditioning can be a seasonal trade, with the demand for cooling greater than heating in many countries. When its cold, you can layer up the clothing and rug up, however there is a limit to how much you can take off when it’s hot (depending on how free-spirited you are…). The more air conditioners that are installed, serviced, cleaned, and repaired, the more work there is for a company. Once enough work is generated, a company can then create new jobs and employ additional technicians.
All other benefits aside, job promotion is a valuable reason to have aircon in place. Whether it be a home air conditioner, commercial AC system, or industrial air conditioning set up, there are other people outside of your life and organisation that can also benefit from the AC system.
We’ve heard a lot about the economy in recent times; the good, the bad, and the ugly. Air conditioning can help stimulate the economy in a range of different ways.
Job promotion, business growth, employee productivity enhancement, coronavirus reduction, and other illness and disease prevention are just some examples of ways that air conditioning can boost the economy. These benefits are multi-faceted. Not only do they help the economy directly in many ways, they also have a flow-on effect and hidden benefits that aren’t immediately apparent.
We’ve touched on many of the benefits of air conditioning throughout this article which directly and indirectly support economical growth. However, every reason listed in this article as to why air conditioning is good could be the basis of a larger, more detailed article in itself.
There are many reasons why air conditioning is good, either directly or indirectly. Whether it be for yourself, your family, your workplace or the economy, there are many benefits of having an air conditioner in place.
If you need any assistance designing, purchasing, installing, maintaining, cleaning, repairing, or using an air conditioning system, please don’t hesitate to contact the Team at Ice Blast. The Team are here to help.