Experts say shading the AC unit does not improve efficiency

The claim: Putting a shade on an AC condenser helps lower the temperature and reduce energy costs

Like millions of Americans cope with extreme temperatures, many people are looking for ways to stay cool. Some Facebook users claim that shading an outdoor air conditioning unit – known as a condenser – improves its efficiency and lowers indoor temperatures.

“I took one of our awnings out and put it on ours today… Our house WAS 88° with central air conditioning and 2 window units running. It is NOW 75° INSIDE INDOOR just with some added shade,” reads a July 10 Facebook post.

The post garnered over 18,000 shares and 3,000 reactions in less than a week.

But shading an AC condenser would have a negligible effect, mechanical engineers told USA TODAY.

Hot air coming out of an AC condenser cannot escape efficiently if a blind is placed above the unit. A condenser may operate less efficiently due to airflow restrictions caused by shade, experts say.

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USA TODAY has reached out to the Facebook user who shared the claim for comment.

Inefficient AC unit coverage

According to experts, placing a blind over an AC condenser can restrict airflow and does not improve energy efficiency. It can actually have the opposite effect.

A central air conditioning unit works by moving heat from indoors to outdoors, David Borowski, director of technical training American residential serviceshas explained.

“Condenser shading simply won’t make a difference in performance if the cover or canopy over an outdoor unit allows some of the rejected heat to recycle back into the unit,” said Borowski. “Performance goes down while your electric bill would go up.”

Wes Davisthe director of technical services for Air Conditioning Contractors of America, said placing a blind on an AC condenser would be statistically insignificant.

He referred to a 1996 Florida Solar Energy Center study who found localized shading above a central air conditioning unit reduced electricity consumption by 3%.

“Typically, air is drawn in from the sides and exhausted from the top. If the unit uses a pass-through strategy, side to side, there is less chance of recirculation,” Davis said. .

Victoria Vinala spokesperson for the US Department of Energy told USA TODAY in an email exchange that there are other strategies.

“Trees could potentially reduce AC loads if they can reduce the temperature around AC units, but trees also have the advantage that shading can also reduce a building’s overall AC load,” Vinall said.

“Cleaning outdoor units or cleaning anything that might restrict airflow would make a bigger difference.”

Our opinion: False

Based on our research, we rate the claim that putting a shade over an AC condenser helps lower temperatures and reduce energy costs as FALSE. According to experts, placing an umbrella or canopy over an AC condenser does not improve its efficiency or reduce energy costs. Shading a condenser can reduce its performance because airflow can be restricted.

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