It a conundrum. We use air conditioning to cope with our warming climate, making demands for energy spike, utilities burn more natural gas and coal to meet those demands, accelerating climate change, creating more extreme weather. Taken in isolation its becoming a feedback loop. The more air conditioning we use the hotter the heat waves get, and the more we need air conditioning to cope with them.
Energy Supply and Use pdf
Warming will be accompanied by decreases in demand for heating energy and
increases in demand for cooling energy. The latter will result in significant
increases in electricity use and higher peak demand in most regions.
The vast majority of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, about 87 percent, come from energy production and use.
How air-conditioning is baking our world
By Dan Watson
As your air conditioner cools your room, it makes heat waves more extreme
When you think of the causes of global warming, you may picture an SUV before you picture a central AC unit. But almost 20 percent of electricity consumption in U.S. homes goes to AC — that’s as much electricity as the entire continent of Africa uses for all purposes. So says Stan Cox in his new book, Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air-Conditioned World (and Finding New Ways to Get Through the Summer).
When I looked at the doubling in the amount of electricity used for air conditioning homes in this country just since the mid-90s, I thought, we really need to address this, because it is a big contributor to greenhouse-gas release and it’s going to increase the likelihood that we’re going to have longer, more intense heat waves and hotter summers in the future, and we’re going to have to be running the air-conditioning even more.
When I was a kid I spent a couple of years living in Baltimore before air conditioning was commonplace. I can remember nights the heat and humidity were so stifling it was almost impossible to sleep. Air conditioning would have been what I lay away longing for, so I am well acquainted with the need for cool spaces in summertime.
Here are a number of short term strategies to reduce power consumption needed for air conditioning, and still be comfortable.
(1) Using window air conditioning units for the rooms you spend the most time in can save power over a central air conditioning system for the whole building.
(2) If you use a central air conditioning system have it serviced every couple of years to keep it working at its best efficiency.
(3) Change the filter in your air conditioner frequently to save power and money.
(4) Placing air conditioners out of direct sunlight can reduce the power consumption by 10%.
(5)Putting white roofs on our buildings will make big reductions in cooling demands
SUMMERTIME ENERGY-SAVING TIPS
Turn up your thermostat
Set your thermostat to 78 degrees when you are home and 85 degrees or off when you are away. Using ceiling or room fans allows you to set the thermostat higher because the air movement will cool the room. Always take into account health considerations and be sure to drink plenty of fluids in warm weather. (Save: 1 - 3 percent per degree, for each degree the thermostat is set above 72 degrees)
GOOD ENERGY SAVING INVESTMENTSMany of our newer buildings are designed to rely on lots of air conditioning. For longer term solutions to cooling with less air conditioning we need to change how our buildings are designed and built. Earth sheltered homes and buildings have substantially lower cooling and heating needs than conventional construction (and they're hurricane and tornado proof). Small design changes to conventional conventional buildings can substantially lower cooling and heating demands too.
Planning to do some remodeling soon? Time to replace old appliances? Consider these energy efficiency suggestions when you make purchases.
Install a whole house fan
A whole house fan is permanently installed in your attic and draws cool air into your home through the windows while forcing hot air out through your attic vents. Use after sundown when the outside temperature drops below 80 degrees, and in the early morning to cool your house and help reduce your air conditioning use. (Save: up to 5 percent)
Install window shading
Install patio covers, awnings, and solar window screens to shade your home from the sun. For additional future savings, use strategically planted trees, shrubs and vines to shade your home. (Save: 5 percent)
Solar control window films applied to existing glass in windows and doors is an effective method to reduce peak demand during hot months and conserve energy anytime air conditioning might be required. In addition to the energy management benefits, the use of these films can also reduce exposure to ultraviolet radiation and reduce glare. Vist the International Window Film Association for more information. (save 5-10 percent)
Invest in a new air-conditioning unit
If your air conditioner is on the way out, buy an ENERGY STAR® air conditioner. (Save: up to 10 percent)
Seal your ducts
Leaking ductwork accounts for 25 percent of cooling costs in an average home, so have your ducts tested and have any leaks or restrictions repaired by a qualified contractor. Note: duct cleaning is not the same as duct sealing. As of October 1, 2005, if you install a new central air conditioner or furnace, your ducts will have to be inspected. (Save: 10 -20 percent)
Replace your refrigerator with an ENERGY STAR® model
Refrigerators with a top or bottom freezer design can save you an additional 2-3% on your bill compared to a side-by-side design. (Save: 10 percent)
Increase attic insulation
If existing insulation level is R-19 or less, consider insulating your attic to at least R-30. (Save: 10 percent)
Install ENERGY STAR® windows
If your windows are due for replacement, ENERGY STAR® windows can make your house more comfortable year-round. (Save: up to 10 percent)