If you’ve lived through at least one New Mexico summer, you know how essential it is to keep your home cool. Climate control is important, but so is keeping down the energy bill. One of our most requested services revolves around an easy-to-install, easy-to-maintain alternative to air conditioning: swamp coolers. Read on to learn how to get the most out of your swamp cooler so that you can stay cool all summer long.

How Does a Swamp Cooler Work?

A swamp cooler–also called an evaporative cooler–passes hot air over cooling pads and blows out the resulting cool air. Evaporative cooling utilizes a fan to pull outside air into the appliance. The porous sides stay damp by drawing water from a pan at the bottom of the cooler. It’s best to avoid excess moisture (keep the cooling pads moist but not soaked) to create the most evaporation.

It can be easy to confuse an evaporative cooler with an air conditioner–after all, they both have the job of keeping you cool. But while an air conditioning unit takes the humidity out of the air, an air-cooling swamp cooler is much better suited to the desert climes of New Mexico.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Swamp Coolers

Living in New Mexico, finding a home cooling option is essential. Being informed about your opportunities can help you bring the most comfort to your home. So what are the pros and cons of evaporative coolers? Swamp coolers’ main advantage is that their operating costs are typically up to half that of central air conditioners. Other things to consider about swamp coolers are:


-Cheaper initial equipment cost than air conditioners

-Cheaper operating costs

-Straightforward installation


-Less control over the temperature in the house

-Air is not cleaned as thoroughly as when you use an air conditioner

-You may need to crack windows/open vents outside

-Needs more maintenance than an air conditioner

And remember: If you opt for both a central air unit and a swamp cooler, don’t run them simultaneously. That will only put the systems at odds with each other and unnecessarily run up your energy bill.

Signs Your Cooler Needs Repair

The life expectancy of your cooler can vary based on how well you maintain it. However, all coolers will need to be replaced, eventually. Stay alert to see if your system is

-leaking water

-making strange noises

-failing to produce cold air

This could indicate that the machine is not energy-efficient and will likely increase your energy bill. Of course, preventative maintenance can increase the lifetime of your evaporative cooler.  

5 Tips For an Efficient Swamp Cooler

1. Use Your Swamp Cooler in a Dry Climate

If you’ve ever wondered why a humid day can make things so miserable, it’s because your sweat is struggling to evaporate into the air– there’s already too much moisture in the air for the evaporation process to work efficiently. It’s the same thing with an evaporative cooler. If the humidity level is too high, the water won’t be able to evaporate quickly enough to lower the temperature—the swamp cooler functions by enabling cold water to dissipate into dry air.

All of this signifies that New Mexico’s consistently arid climate makes it an ideal place for evaporative cooler use. Call us for new installation services if you’d like to add one to your household. 

2. Align With the Seasons

In general, swamp coolers achieve peak efficiency when the relative humidity hovers around 70 percent. Once it reaches 75 percent or above, they lose effectiveness and can make things feel worse as they tend to make the air damper. Of course, a dry climate in New Mexico is the norm, but to be energy efficient, keep an eye on changing weather. 

3. Open the Windows

Running an evaporative cooler effectively may mean going against some of your ideas about traditional air conditioning. Since swamp coolers work by pulling in and cooling down warm air, they function best with a steady, proper airflow. The higher the air humidity, the less effective the swamp cooler will be. To help with the cooling process, crack your windows an inch or two to let damp air out and dry air in.

4. Prime the Pads First

When you first turn on your swamp cooler, it needs time for the cooler pads to absorb the water entirely. Wet pads can wick moisture from the tank more easily, but it can take up to 15 minutes for the pads to reach saturation point. In order to use energy more efficiently, give the pads time to absorb water from the reservoir before turning on the fan. This will keep your machine from blowing hot air around before it’s reached its full cooling abilities. 

5. Get Routine Maintenance

The best way to protect your investment is to maintain your air cooler’s health before it passes the point of no return. Better a repair than a malfunction! We at Courtesy can perform a complete preventative maintenance checkup to ensure that your unit will have a long, healthy life. Have an inspection done before the high cooling season and right before retiring your cooler for the winter. You can care for your cooler throughout the season with the following tips:

-Gently wipe down the exterior

-Keep air intake grills and fans clean by vacuuming them

-Semi-regularly rinse the water tank with a soap and water solution

-Examine cooler pads for cracks or mildew, replacing them when necessary

Make sure that the unit is thoroughly drained and cooling pads are completely dry before putting them away–storing a damp unit is a foolproof way to wind up with mold and mildew the following spring. 

In case of an unexpected breakdown, call our Emergency Repair Hotline at 306-382-4122.

The Courtesy Plumbing and Heating Guarantee

At Courtesy Plumbing and Heating, customer satisfaction is our goal. Air conditioning is one of our specialties. You can rely on us to make life your more pleasant, whether via installation, upgrade and replacement, our repair service, or preventative maintenance.

Follow these swamp cooler tips and use our services so that you can stay cool in the New Mexico heat. Visit us at our website or call at 505-830-9099 to increase your comfort today.