/ 10 new AC's will be sold every second for the next 30 years

It's time to get smart about A/C

Blistering heat got you itching to blast the air-conditioner? With outdoor temperatures shooting higher in recent summers, you might be tempted to set your thermostat even lower.

But have you ever taken a minute to think about using A/C and the Planet getting hotter?

The type of A/C used in homes is “set to account for over 130 gigatons of CO2 emissions between now and 2050.”2FYI, that’s 40% of the remaining ‘carbon budget’ experts have calculated humans can ‘spend’ before we reach a2°C increase in average temperature–which could trigger catastrophic impacts.

Here’s the thing: if millions of people adopt super-simple measures, it’s possible to stay cool AND be kind to the Planet. Ready to make a difference?

Avoiding to get hot in the first place

Keeping blinds, curtains and windows closed during day limits ‘heat gain’. Using fans to keep air moving will make rooms feel cooler. Throwing windows wide open overnight lets cool air pushout any hot, stuffy build-up. Check out this blog for more details.

Be chill about your need to be cool

Personal preference plays a BIG role when it comes to setting the thermostat on your A/C. But it’s more important than ever to balance short-term personal comfort and long-term Planetary limits.

Most people find 26°C (78°F) pretty comfortable if in a park or at a beach. So why shoot for20°C (68°F) indoors? A/C units are designed to work optimally in the mid-20s range; each degree lower comes with extra ‘costs’ from using more electricity.

Resist the urge to set the temperature super-low in the hope of getting a quick, cold blast. A/C units have their limits and will gradually get to the set temperature when they can. Start by aiming to lower the temperature by 2°C (3-4°F). Still too hot 30 minutes later? Do another incremental drop. Setting a super-low temp will keep your A/C running longer, rather than cooling the room faster.

In turn, if you’re stepping out for an hour or more, shut the A/C off or re-set to a slightly higher temp. Upon your return, the A/C will have you back to your comfort zone in 15-30 minutes.

Personal preference plays a BIG role when it comes to setting the thermostat on your A/C. But it’s more important than ever to balance short-term personal comfort and long-term Planetary limits.

Finally, consider cooling only the rooms you’re actually using. No need to consume electricity for bedrooms that will stay empty until overnight breezes offer natural–and free–cooling.

Calculating the energy and environmental costs of A/C

A typical A/C unit uses 3 000 to 5 000 Watts (W) of electricity per hour (W/hr). For comparison, the elements on modern stoves use just 1 500 W/hr on medium to high heat.

When it comes to calculating CO2 emissions, the ‘fuel’ being used to generate electricity makes a world of difference. Plants that rely on coal spew 950 grams of CO2 (gC02) for every kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity they generate; gas-fired plants average 350 gC02. Solar, wind and hydro come in at zero during power generation but one should account for emissions linked to their construction. Per kWh, that works out to 60-150 gC02 for solar, 3-22 gC02 for wind turbines, and 4 gC02 for a hydropower plant. Even after factoring in future needs to dismantle aging facilities, nuclear power plants come in at 6 CO2.

All things considered, on average, running an A/C for 8 hours likely emits 22 to 38 kg of CO2 per day–about the same as doing 10 loads of laundry at 40°C and putting each through a tumble dryer.

So, every hour you DON’T run the A/C is like doing two loads less.

Keep your A/C from being an energy hog and emissions belcher

A/C units need ‘breezy’ airflow to run efficiently: four simple steps can slash their energy consumption by 20 to 50%, with similar gains on reduced emissions.

Be strategic about when to flip the A/C to 'on'

And one last point: understanding ‘peak demand’, energy prices and emissions is also vital

In summer months, home A/C units play a MASSIVE role in electricity demand spiking between16:00 and 21:00.

To cope with this high (peak) demand, electricity system operators have to bring more powerplants online. Under current electricity market protocols, that usually means paying higher whole sale prices for power generated by plants that run on coal or natural gas (presumably, lower-cost, low-emission plants are already generating in parallel).

And that equals higher emissions ‘in the moment’ and sometimes shockingly higher electricity bills for consumers later on.