With our first real taste of summer weather last week, many people in the Seattle area found themselves uncomfortable in their homes for the first time in a long time. The Puget Sound area is blessed with relatively mild weather, and most people who live here do so without air conditioning. So why should we need it now?

To begin with, several changes in the way homes are built are causing people to rethink adding AC to their homes:

  1. As opposed to older homes that have lots of mature tress for shading, most new home developments have little or no mature trees around them, and shading can be minimal.
  2. Homes are being built with larger windows, south-west exposures to maximize sunlight, higher ceilings, etc. While this makes them seem warmer and lighter in our dark winter months, it adds to solar heat gain in the summer.
  3. As population has increased, home building has spread out to areas that are further from the Puget Sound (which provides natural cooling), and are moving to higher elevations in the foothills and on plateaus, where temperatures can vary by as much as 15 degrees.
  4. More efficient energy codes are causing homes to be tighter, with less air infiltration and better insulation. This is helpful in the winter (our dominant energy use period), but it can hold heat in during the summer, especially when homes are not designed or built with cooling (either mechanical or passive).

Beyond this, most people have air conditioning at work, in their car, and are used to it in stores, restaurants, etc. They are comfortable when they are away from home, and have become used to this, only to be uncomfortable at home.

Beyond comfort, there are other reasons to think about installing air conditioning in your home:

  1. Added security of being able to close and lock windows and doors year-round
  2. Reduced infiltration of allergens and other outdoor pollutants into the home – improving indoor air quality
  3. Increased home value, and ease of re-sale

Ultimately, the decision of whether to install air conditioning is dependent on the design and location of your home, and your personal needs. But there is a way to have your cake, and eat it too … with a heat pump. These devices provide cooling in the summer, and can provide much more efficient heating in winter months, providing comfort year round, but also saving you money on monthly utility bills!

For more information on installing an air conditioner or heat pump, and whether they are right for you, check out the product pages on our website, stay tuned for future posts for more information, or contact us for a no-obligation consultation.