Revolutionary Ways to Keep Your AC Cool and the Planet Cooler

AC Cool
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According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the number of air conditioner (AC) units in buildings worldwide will reach 5.6 billion by 2050, nearly triple the current 2 billion units. The increasing demand presents a critical energy problem. Balancing the need to beat the dangerous heat without "heating up" the planet requires innovative solutions.

From more efficient AC units to shaded streets and groundbreaking technologies, let's explore the extraordinary measures to keep cool while being environmentally conscious.

"Many AC units are relatively cheap and highly inefficient. The energy performance standards they must meet don't match their potential, with 95% not exceeding the minimum requirements," says Iain Campbell, a senior associate at the sustainable non-profit organization, Rocky Mountain Institute, as quoted by The Guardian (July 25, 2023).

One significant issue with AC units is the leakage of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants, potent greenhouse gases and major contributors to global warming. The most commonly used type is R-410A, about 2,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

As the AC operates, the refrigerant moves within a tube, transitioning between low and high-pressure areas, turning into gas to absorb heat from the interior and releasing heat outside when it condenses back into liquid.

In its gaseous form, HFC can leak through pipe joints (typical home units may lose 10% of their refrigerant each year) or escape entirely if the AC is improperly disposed of without proper decommissioning.

In essence, AC units indeed have a significant impact on global warming, but this can be significantly reduced by using them correctly and ensuring efforts are made to maintain their optimal performance.

Here are some ways to use ACs while minimizing their environmental impact:

Choose the Right Size and Number of AC Units for Your Home

An AC unit that is too small or not powerful enough for a room will consume more energy to achieve the desired cooling effect. The unit should be appropriately sized to balance the hot air entering the room with the cool air it pumps out. Although opting for a smaller unit might seem more budget-friendly, it will ultimately result in higher energy bills and an increased carbon footprint.

Regular Maintenance

Like a boiler, an AC unit requires specific tasks to be performed. Some of these tasks, such as replacing and cleaning filters, can be done by the owner. However, it's crucial to have the AC unit professionally serviced at least once a year to inspect its internal components. Regular maintenance ensures the AC operates at optimal efficiency, reducing utility bills, and minimizing long-term energy consumption. It's a win-win for both the environment and your wallet.

Install Programmable Thermostats

Most modern air conditioners are controlled through remote control or smartphone apps, providing convenient temperature control inside your home. For enhanced efficiency, consider installing programmable thermostats that prevent the AC from running accidentally and consuming energy when it's not needed. You can program the AC thermostat to turn on at specific times when people will be in the room and turn it off when the room is empty.

Replace Old Inefficient Units

If you've had an AC unit for an extended period (e.g., more than seven years), it's likely operating less efficiently. When replacing your AC, opt for a high-rated unit (e.g., A++ ErP) for efficiency to avoid higher energy bills and an increased carbon footprint.

Choose Ductless Units and Zoning Systems

Ductless units are installed per room, allowing you to control the temperature and climate in each room individually (depending on how many units are installed). This way, you have greater and more precise control over which rooms are cooled or heated. This option conserves energy, saves costs, and ensures a comfortably cool and eco-friendly living environment.

Embrace these revolutionary ways to keep your AC cool and the planet cooler. By making mindful choices and implementing energy-efficient practices, you can make a positive impact on the environment without compromising your comfort. Let's work together to create a sustainable future for generations to come.

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