Is refrigerated air more expensive to operate then evaporative cooling?

Generally speaking- yes, but it depends on many factors. 

1. The efficiency of the refrigerated air unit is one, but now air conditioners come in different efficiency levels. The higher the efficiency, the less of a energy cost there is. We have had some customers tell us their bills have remained almost the same after installing new High efficiency refrigerated air systems.
2. In addition to this, water consumption of an evaporative cooler should be considered. Evaporative coolers consume 3 to 15 gallons of water per day so you will spend less on your water bill.
3. Having good insulation on your walls and attic space will contribute to savings. Double glass windows and doors is also a plus when considering efficiency.