As for the cooling industry, researchers have estimated that by 2050 the number of room air conditioners will quadruple to 4.5 billion worldwide, becoming at least as ubiquitous as cell phones are today. .
By the end of the century, greenhouse gas emissions from air conditioning will account for up to 0.5 degrees Celsius of global temperature increases, according to calculations by the World Economic Forum. It’s a catch-22 situation because as temperatures rise due to global warming, the need for cooling becomes more pressing.
Previously, refrigeration used CFCs or chlorofluorocarbons, but they were banned in the late 1980s after it was discovered that they depleted the earth’s ozone layer. Manufacturers have since replaced them with substances such as R32 gases, which are much more ozone friendly and have significantly reduced environmental impacts.
However, the high emissions associated with old or poorly maintained cooling technology remains a problem (or an opportunity) that we need to address. Air conditioners must be in good condition to operate efficiently and minimize emissions. In fact, it’s estimated that proper maintenance and disposal of air conditioners will help reduce hundreds of billions of gigatons of CO2 emissions by 2050.
So there are, it seems, clear pathways for us to limit the impacts of our use of air conditioning and make a meaningful difference in the fight against climate change. And these paths are not onerous – just a few common sense steps in our daily actions that can make a difference for several reasons.
First, our individual carbon footprint matters. Globally, it produces an average of about four tonnes of greenhouse gases, or GHGs, each year (1 tonne = 2,204 pounds or 1,000 kg). While this is a large number to deal with, even small individual reductions, collectively, will have big impacts.
Second, we are a very social species. We model our behaviors and ideas on others, so it’s important that we all be the change we want to see. By positioning responsible cooling choices as the default, not the exception, we will make tremendous progress.
Cooling and Durability
So what does all this mean for cooling and durability?
In short, it means small but constant changes in our cooling habits. If you schedule regular air conditioning maintenance, you will see an immediate impact through lower energy bills, improved indoor air quality and lower noise levels.
If you are in rented accommodation, which is the case for a large proportion of residents of the United Arab Emirates, make sure that regular air conditioning maintenance is part of the conversation you have with your landlord before finalizing rental contracts. And, if you share your experiences and new habits with others, chances are they too will follow.
On a practical level, here are the simple things you can do to reduce your personal impact on the environment through air conditioning.
• Keep it at 24. Each degree increase in set temperature can save up to 5% on AC power consumption.
• Keep an air conditioning maintenance checklist, which may include a physical inspection for abnormal noise, vibration, overheating, and dust buildup on the coils, among others.
• Clean your AC filters regularly (at least once a month during the summer). Clogged or dirty AC filters can block normal airflow and significantly reduce system efficiency.
• Use a programmable or smart thermostat if you have one to avoid overcooling.
• Replace old air conditioners — they are “energy guzzlers” and can double your consumption per year to operate. Please dispose of your old air conditioner responsibly – professional air conditioning suppliers can often help you with this.
Conscious cooling is our business. And, in a region where cooling is synonymous with quality of life, we all have a duty to ensure that we cool our spaces and places responsibly. Together, we can all play our part in reducing the impact of air conditioners on the planet, one degree at a time.
Tariq Al Ghussein is the CEO of Taqeef