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IRI September 3, 2019 0 Comments

On June 28, 2019, record temperatures were recorded in the French department of le Gard, rising above the 45°C (113°F) mark for the first time in France. Less than a month later a second heat wave hit, pushing temperatures in Paris and other cities to highs never seen before.

High temperatures are now plaguing many countries around the world, including India, which suffered suffocating heat in early June, with temperatures of more than 50°C (122°F).

Given the repeated heat waves, the use of air conditioning has soared: it improves both living conditions and economic productivity. But the instant relief it offers is offset by its harmful environmental effects.

What are the trends in A/C use worldwide? What are its environmental impacts and what actions must we undertake to improve the situation? In order to answer these questions, we used data provided by Enerdata and a 2018 report by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

A booming economic activity

Less than a third of households worldwide own an A/C unit, but some regions are more equipped than others. In the United States and in Japan, 90% of households have one. China now has over a third of the world’s A/C units, with a 60% household ownership rate—a ratio far above that of 8% for the 2.8 billion households living in the hottest regions. In Europe, on average, 20% of households own an A/C unit, but only 5% of French households do.

The air conditioning boom is a global phenomenon.

Trends in A/C unit sales show that the gaps are closing. Sales rose 15% between 2017 and 2018, particularly in emerging economies (China, Brazil, India, Indonesia, and Mexico), where extremely high temperatures are increasingly frequent. The number of A/C units in the world rose by 40%, and has almost doubled in Asia since 2010.

Extremely rapid growth in energy consumption

Air conditioning represents an increasingly large proportion of electricity consumption in the building sector, both residential and tertiary. It is responsible for 12% of the sector’s CO2 emissions worldwide.

In Saudi Arabia, A/C accounts for 73% of the sector’s electricity consumption, as compared to 23% in the US and India. In Europe, it accounts for only 2%, but with a marked annual increase since 2000 (3.5% growth per annum), a rate that remains modest when compared to those observed in Asia: 12% per annum since 2000 in China, 11% in India and 9% in Indonesia.

Japan is an exception, with stable consumption since 2000: since the A/C market is almost completely saturated (with a 90% ownership rate), there is little change in the number of A/C units installed, and replacing old units with more efficient models improves their overall energy efficiency.

The high energy cost of cooling.

Electrical systems tested to their limits

At the peak of June’s heat wave in France, the French transmission system operator, RTE, announced that a record high for summer electricity consumption—59,436 MW—had been reached due to increased use of A/C units and fans. They indicated that each degree above normal seasonal temperatures was correlated with additional electricity consumption equivalent to that of the entire city of Bordeaux (around 250,000 inhabitants). In China, on the hottest days, A/C accounts for up to half of peak electricity demand in the country.

See more here https://qz.com/1695582/how-to-use-the-air-conditioning-without-ruining-the-environment/