Evaporative cooling is easy to understand because we all experience this phenomenon after a vigorous workout. As sweat evaporates from skin or clothes, we cool off. It takes heat energy to change water from a liquid into a vapor, so heat is lost (causing cooling) when this phase change occurs. An air conditioner more than 10 years old can consume twice as much energy as a new ENERGY STAR® model to deliver the same amount of cooling.
An evaporative cooler works by forcing warm outside air through a damp pad, and then blowing the resulting cooled air into the living or working space. The name "swamp cooler" probably came about because many early applications of this air conditioning technology had the unintended consequence of causing algae or mold to grow, producing a swampy smell.
Modern swamp coolers can be efficient and effective, but results will always be best in hot, dry climates where evaporation can take place easily. In hot, humid climates the air may be too moist for sufficient evaporation, limiting the cooling effect.
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