Interested in a Solar Powered Air Conditioner? Here are the Pros and Cons

Air conditioning comprises a huge portion of American energy costs. According to the federal government, American consumers spend $29 billion dollars per year regulating the temperature of their homes, pumping 117 million metric tons of atmosphere-warming carbon dioxide into the air in the process. Solar powered air conditioners may be an alternative to the expensive, fossil fuel-intensive conventional air conditioners. But are they a good option for your home? Let’s explore the pros and cons of solar powered air conditioners.



Pro: You may decrease your utility costs


The greatest thing about solar power is that it utilizes one of the most abundant natural resources we have. When you’re getting energy from the sun, it means you don’t have to pay for energy coming from some other source. You simply don’t need a power company to point some panels toward a giant ball of gas. According to Lennox, one solar powered AC could save you as much as 50 percent on your monthly energy bill.



Con: Some units may not work at night


One of the unfortunate things about solar power is that it utilizes one of the most abundant natural resources we have . . . for approximately half of the day every day. Battery-run units and models with energy storing capabilities can overcome the basic problem of utilizing energy from the sun overnight, but solar power’s nighttime challenges are stubborn. The basic fact is that most people like to have a cool home while they sleep.



Pro: Solar powered air conditioners may not be connected to the grid


If the energy storage function of your solar powered air conditioner works properly, it can do wonders for your energy lifestyle. As Green Builder Media points out, solar powered appliances are not necessarily connected to the grid. Thus, when storms knock down power lines, your solar powered air conditioner may not be affected.



Con: Not every state is solar friendly


Energy companies are threatened by solar power. The idea that people can independently store their own energy is an affront to utility companies’ core business model. As a result, several states, including Florida, have been slow on the uptake of solar. If your state has not passed legislation that makes it cost effective to install solar panels, it may be difficult to consider a solar powered air conditioner.


Crowdsourcing Climate Change

Imagine if you could come up with an innovative idea to help stop climate change – and get paid $10,000 for it? That’s what the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is proposing through contests asking people to build action plans focused on climate change topics, from changing public behavior to decarbonizing the energy supply.



Harnessing Collective Intelligence


Harnessing Collective IntelligenceThe project is spearheaded by MIT’s Center for Collective Intelligence and its Climate CoLab. Its founder, Sloan Professor Thomas Malone, explains the mission: “To test how crowds and experts can work together to solve large, complex problems, like climate change.” The Climate CoLab community totals 50,000 people, including leading climate change experts. The Climate CoLab has collaborated with the United Nations, Nike and other large organizations leading the charge against climate change.



The Ultimate Prize: Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions


The Ultimate PrizeWinners will receive various prizes, including the opportunity to present their idea at MIT and be part of plans that could impact the U.S. and other countries worldwide. This year’s submissions are due Monday, May 23, and winners will be chosen for each of the 10 climate change challenges. There will also be a phase two of the contest where the winning proposals can be put together in various ways to form strategies for both individual nations and the world. All of the solutions will be evaluated by estimating how much greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced. (Learn more about how window film helps to lower greenhouse gas emissions here.)



Cast Your Votes


Cast Your VotesPart of this crowdsourcing approach includes welcoming comments from everyone around the world. Finalists were recently announced in three contests, on which you can now vote. Check out the ideas and cast your vote here. And learn more about all of the contests here. You’ll be joining 400,000 others who have logged onto the Climate CoLab website. The project has gained momentum since its inception and has gained recognition from such media outlets as PBS, NPR, Popular Science, The Weather Channel, and Discovery.