Do you remember why your cold glass of water has water running on the sides and pooling at the bottom during hot days? You are right, this is called condensation, which occurs when warm humid air comes in contact with a colder surface and changes water vapor into liquid, or condensate. Now, while the amount of water produced from an iced drink is trivial, a cooling system, such as an air conditioner, can produce a remarkably large volume of water.
Air conditioners operate according to the same principle of condensation. An air conditioner circulates the air to ensure maximum comfort for the occupants inside a room. Warm, humid air is drawn into the air conditioning system, where it mixes with the refrigerated air on the coils of the system. A large volume of condensate is then produced. This condensate must be removed in order to prevent water damages to the mechanical parts of the system, or the structure around the air conditioner.
The condensation produced in an average household may range from 19 - 76 liters per day, which is more than the amount of water you use in an 8-minute shower. The volume of condensation emptied from an air conditioning system can even reach thousands of liters per year in large infrastructures, such as hotels, offices, and residential buildings.
Condensate is generally drained into the sewer, whereupon it is lost. This runoff liquid from air conditioners is actually distilled water, which is purified and has a low concentration of minerals. This means that liters and liters of technically good water are being wasted. Condensate can be recycled if the drain line from the air conditioner runs into a storage tank instead.
People can then utilize the water collected for daily household activities; and with additional disinfection processes, condensate can be used as potable water. A significant quantity of recycled water can be achieved, especially in large buildings like hotels, where all the rooms are furnished with air conditioners.
Water shortages are becoming increasingly prevalent, even in countries like Thailand where land is divided by freshwater bodies. Cities in the U.S. such as San Antonio have redesigned drain lines in order to capture condensate in all the new commercial buildings (with greater than or equal to 10 tons of total cooling capacity). Recycled condensate can aid in providing an alternative to this problem. By just taking a few measures, you can curb unnecessary water loss and save big money on your utility bill. Reusing the water from an air conditioner can help to curb unnecessary water loss and save money on your utility bill.