Air conditioning can also be provided by a process called free cooling which uses pumps to circulate a coolant (typically water or a glycol mix) from a cold source, which in turn acts as a heat sink for the energy that is removed from the cooled space. Common storage media are deep aquifers or a natural underground rock mass accessed via a cluster of small-diameter boreholes, equipped with heat exchanger. Some systems with small storage capacity are hybrid systems, using free cooling early in the cooling season, and later employing a heat pump to chill the circulation coming from the storage. The heat pump is added because the temperature of the storage gradually increases during the cooling season, thereby declining its effectiveness.
Absorption heat pumps are a kind of air-source heat pump, but they do not depend on electricity to power them. Instead, gas, solar power, or heated water is used as a main power source. An absorption pump dissolves ammonia gas in water, which gives off heat. Next, the water and ammonia mixture is depressurized to induce boiling, and the ammonia is boiled off, which absorbs heat from the outdoor air.
A specialized air conditioner that is used only for dehumidifying is called a dehumidifier. It also uses a refrigeration cycle, but differs from a standard air conditioner in that both the evaporator and the condenser are placed in the same air path. A standard air conditioner transfers heat energy out of the room because its condenser coil releases heat outside. However, since all components of the dehumidifier are in the same room, no heat energy is removed. Instead, the electric power consumed by the dehumidifier remains in the room as heat, so the room is actually heated, just as by an electric heater that draws the same amount of power.