Evaporative Cooling and Air Conditioning: Can you use both?

Warmer temperatures are slowly creeping into spring afternoons. Summer is approaching, and soon decisions will be made on how to best keep cool and comfortable in the rising heat.

If you live in an area where the temperatures are high and the humidity is low, evaporative cooling is a fantastic cooling option for you. Evaporative coolers work off of the principal of evaporation. When water vaporizes, it makes the surrounding air feel cooler. Evaporative coolers have the addition of a fan to circulate the humidity and cooler temperatures throughout the home.

There are definitely advantages to using an evaporative cooler over traditional air conditioning.

  • MONEY SAVINGS. Evaporative coolers use about a third of the amount of electricity to operate as traditional air conditioning. This monthly savings can significantly add up.

  • BETTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT. Using evaporative cooling is environmentally sound. By using less electricity, you are reducing your carbon footprint, and evaporative coolers do not use chemical refrigerants in their operation.

  • FRESH AIR. In order for evaporative cooling to work efficiently, a window or door (or multiple windows) should be open while the unit is in operation. This helps increase the air flow from the cooler, while also bringing fresh air into the home.

TIP: When using the evaporative cooler, keep at least one window open at the opposite end of the house from the unit, allowing for good cross-ventilation.

But can evaporative coolers be used in a home with air conditioning? Yes! Just not at exactly the same time. Evaporative coolers make hot, dry air feel cooler by adding moisture. Since evaporative coolers are most efficient in hot, dry conditions, they work best during the hottest parts of the day, such as the afternoon heat spike. At night, temperatures lower but humidity levels also rise. It would be most energy efficient to use the evaporative cooling system during the hot parts of the afternoon, then use the air conditioner at night when humidity levels rise.

BONUS: The added moisture from the evaporative cooling can help alleviate symptoms such as dry skin, dull hair, itchy eyes, pet allergies, and even snoring.

Another possible scenario is to use an air conditioner in only one part of the home. Simply keep that area of the home closed off from the other parts of the house (windows and doors closed). Air conditioning requires a closed area in order for it to be efficient. Evaporative coolers require air flow, so these two principles work in favor if you wish to keep one closed area air conditioned.

Running the evaporative cooler and air conditioner at exactly the same time would be a bad idea. Evaporative coolers need air flow, and air conditioners need a closed area. Evaporative coolers add moisture to the air, while air conditioners remove moisture from the air. However, as the outside conditions change, the advantages of each separate system can be used to the most advantage.

TIP: If you run both an air conditioner and an evaporative cooler, consider saving the water from the condensate line of the air conditioner to use in the water pan of the evaporative cooler.

If you live in a part of the country that suffers from hot and very humid conditions, air conditioning will be the best form of cooling for your home. Even though evaporative coolers are sometimes referred to as “swamp coolers” they should definitely not be used in humid climates!

If you live in an area with hot and dry conditions, please give our Customer Support Team a call to help you choose the best evaporative cooling system for your home! 1-800-643-8341, Monday through Friday from 7:30 am to 5:30pm CST.