Right, so there are a number of things in the world that make people say something like “huh, really?” Somewhere along the line a really smart, crafty person decided they had a great, toxic-free way to bring air conditioning to the masses and thus the swamp cooler was born.
For those of you who don’t know how this works, here’s the process in a nutshell (I know, I’m all sciency every now and then, just hang in there). It takes energy to evaporate water. It sounds simple, but it’s a big deal. In a swamp cooler, the water evaporates, and the energy needed to evaporate the water comes from the air which then cools, having lost some energy to evaporate the water.
Swamp coolers work best in deserts, and other arid climates. Basically, if the ambient humidity is lower than 40% they work great, chilling the air by as much as 15 degrees (Fahrenheit).
Except for one little problem: the monsoon.
See, in Albuquerque, we have nine months of the year with a humidity that hovers between 15 and 5%. In short, perfect for a swamp cooler. But those nine months of great swamp cooler humidity? September-May.
So, in Albuquerque, the only time we use our swamp coolers are also the only months where the humidity can regularly spike into the 90% range, effectively disarming all air conditioning.
Huh, really? Who came up with this idea?
At least we usually get an awesome lightning storm to go along with the suddenly sweltering in our houses effect.