Why do we still believe these misleading air-conditioner myths?

Why do we still believe these misleading air-conditioner myths?
(Image via The Spruce)

As you open this, we’re willing to bet that you’re sweating buckets, wiping just fast enough before another drop trickles down your skin. Either that, or you’ve left your air-conditioning unit on so you don’t have to. 

Without a doubt, air-conditioners or ACs are our allies in our struggle against this scorching summer heat. However, like the traditional thrifty Asians that we are, we’ve been led to believe a few fibs about how ACs work, and it’s hard to doubt why. The myths sound so sensible, but we assure you, the science that proves these misconceptions wrong checks out.

1. The bigger the AC, the better it cools the space

Let’s start with something obvious: are bigger AC units more efficient in cooling a room than smaller ones? Not necessarily. 

In reality, you need to look for an AC that suits the size of your home. If you fall for buying a bigger unit just so it can cool your room faster, then you might be looking at bigger expenses too. Bigger units cycle more frequently, and if it’s cooling a smaller space than it’s meant to, wear and tear could happen sooner.

The inverse is true too: if you buy a smaller unit to cool a space larger than it’s supposed to, you’re setting yourself up to spend more than you save, as the unit will work twice as hard to cool the air.

2. It’s cheaper to turn off the AC when you’re not in the room 

Ah, yes, the timeless energy-saving trick taught by moms everywhere. Indeed, the logic applies to a long list of appliances, but not necessarily to an air-conditioning unit.

Turn off
(Image via Handyman NYC)

That’s because the bulk of energy an AC unit spends is when you’re booting it up and shutting it down since those are when it works the hardest to change temperatures. That means it’s actually cheaper to leave them on than turning them on and off repeatedly — except, of course, if you’re leaving for an extended amount of time.

3. Turning the thermostat lower will cool the room faster

An alternate version of this myth is turning the thermostat lower will cost you more money. We say they’re related because the same principle debunks both of these, which is that air-conditioners cool at the same rate and spend the same amount of energy getting to our preferred setting.

You don’t save money when you settle on 25°C instead of a brisker 22°C. Likewise, turning the dial straight to 20°C instead of gradually getting to that setting won’t cool your room quicker. 

4. Turn the fan off when using the AC to save on power.

This is technically true; using two appliances instead of one does expend more electricity. But if we’re aiming for more efficient use of energy, it’s actually better to turn on the fan right as the AC starts to run to help the cool air circulate around the room faster.

This works better if you have a ceiling fan, as it can push the air down and over the bodies of the people in the room. Once you reach your desired cooling effect, then you can switch off the fan. 

5. Just keep repairing an AC unit until it gives.

Shout-out to the Asian moms and dads who would stretch any appliance’s life span or as long as they could just to save cash. While the virtue rings true for housekeepers, the same doesn’t likely apply to ACs. 

the importance of servicing your air conditioner regularly 2
(Image via Design Mag)

That’s because major repairs cause the contraption to perform poorer as time passes. This is considering that an average unit lasts for about 10 to 12 years, if maintained properly. Sure, a quick patch-up solves whatever problem your AC is going through, but buying a new one might be cheaper than racking up bills for repeated repairs.

6. Spending too much time in a cold room will give you colds.

This isn’t even about air-conditioners anymore but we still fall for it anyway. The quick answer? No, a frigid room doesn’t give you the sniffles, but viruses do. We only associate a chilly temperature with a runny nose because the viruses that cause colds spread more easily at lower temperatures. Maybe clean your AC unit, or invest in an air purifier — just leave air-conditioners out of it!


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