One way of keeping cool if you don't have a central HVAC system is to use a portable air conditioner in each room. The vent hose causes some people problems as I'll explain below, but what if you could have the coolness and comfort provided by one of these devices without the exhaust hose?
Unfortunately, air conditioners by their very nature (and their inner workings) do produce a lot of residual heat, which is why they need the hose to vent that hot air to the outside so all you get is the cold air that you want inside. So you might already be feeling a little downhearted with this knowledge that there is no such thing as a vent free air conditioner, but there is an alternative that works!
A type of portable air cooler that doesn't produce any heat, only cold air is something called an evaporative cooler (or swamp cooler). It's called that because it produces cold air by evaporation of moisture much like the way your skin makes you feel cool when you encounter a breeze when you perspire.
It's not the breeze that cools you directly (unless it is a particularly cool breeze - in which case you wouldn't be feeling hot and perspiring anyway). It's actually the action of that breeze in evaporating your perspiration which absorbs the heat and creates that chilling effect directly on your skin.
Evaporative coolers work in the same way by forcing air through a wet porous medium which absorbs the heat in the air so that what blows out the other side is chilled air. Since the only mechanical aspect of these coolers is the fan, they use very little electricity to keep you cool.
These units can effectively cool a room by 20 or so degrees, making them highly attractive alternatives to AC for a number of good reasons:
You might be wondering, if these devices are so great and cheap to run, why doesn't everyone ditch their AC and buy swamp coolers?
The first reason is that most people are not aware these coolers even exist. Most people know what a portable AC is and as far as they know, that's the only kind of free standing cooler aside from a regular fan.
The second reason is most people don't know that evaporative coolers don't work very well in humid climates. There are plenty of people that buy these machines thinking they are a portable air conditioner no hose or exhaust vent required, because they don't know what the difference is or even why an AC needs a hose in the first place.
That's fine if they live in a dry climate, because they'll get their cooler home from the store and if they read the instructions, they'll know to fill the tank with water first, plug it in and then enjoy the blast of cool air that comes out after the medium has had a chance to become soaked with the water.
Unfortunately, lots of folks are disappointed with their purchase because they didn't read the instructions. Also, because they didn't know they bought a swamp cooler and NOT an AC, they don't add any water and then wonder why the unit isn't providing any cold air.
Plenty of people return these units to the store and complain, but really they just didn't know what they had or how to use it. It always pays to read the instructions before you use any appliance!
The other big problem people face when they buy a swamp cooler but don't know how they work is when they also live in a humid climate. Humidity reduces the cooler's ability to evaporate moisture into the atmosphere: which is the very thing it needs to do in order to absorb the heat from the air and produce the cold breeze.
The higher the humidity, the less moisture the air can absorb until it reaches 100% humidity or moisture saturation. At this point, the cooler will only blast out air at the same temperature as it came in - in which case you're better off putting up with the exhaust vent hose and buying a real air conditioner!
There is no alternative to AC or full HVAC in very humid climates, unfortunately. That's just the way it is. You can't really argue with the laws of physics.
But for those living in drier climates, swamp coolers are excellent cooling devices that are effective and very cheap to run. So now you know about these coolers, do you live in a predominantly dry climate and can take advantage of one of these coolers?