The use of CFC as a refrigerant was once common, including the refrigerants R-11 and R-12 (sold under the brand name Freon-12). Freon refrigerants were commonly used during the 20th century in air conditioners due to their superior stability and safety properties. When they are released accidentally or deliberately, these chlorine-bearing refrigerants eventually reach the upper atmosphere. Once the refrigerant reaches the stratosphere, UV radiation from the Sun homolytically cleaves the chlorine-carbon bond, yielding a chlorine radical. These chlorine radicals catalyze the breakdown of ozone into diatomic oxygen, depleting the ozone layer that shields the Earth's surface from strong UV radiation. Each chlorine radical remains active as a catalyst until it binds with another radical, forming a stable molecule and quenching the chain reaction.
The basic concept behind air conditioning is said to have been applied in ancient Egypt, where reeds were hung in windows and were moistened with trickling water. The evaporation of water cooled the air blowing through the window. This process also made the air more humid, which can be beneficial in a dry desert climate. In ancient Rome, water from aqueducts was circulated through the walls of certain houses to cool them. Other techniques in medieval Persia involved the use of cisterns and wind towers to cool buildings during the hot season.
Your HVAC professional can perform a yearly tune-up of your system for around $80-$100. This yearly maintenance can go far toward heading off major repairs to your system and provide you with peace of mind and considerable savings in the long term. Additionally, regular servicing of your AC unit can help a home inspector to certify that your unit is working properly in the event you decide to sell your home.
Air conditioners often use a fan to distribute the conditioned air to an occupied space such as a building or a car to improve thermal comfort and indoor air quality. Electric refrigerant-based AC units range from small units that can cool a small bedroom, which can be carried by a single adult, to massive units installed on the roof of office towers that can cool an entire building. The cooling is typically achieved through a refrigeration cycle, but sometimes evaporation or free cooling is used. Air conditioning systems can also be made based on desiccants (chemicals which remove moisture from the air) and subterraneous pipes that can distribute the heated refrigerant to the ground for cooling.