Heatwaves and Air Conditioning - A Vicious Circle?
Aug 19 2018 Read 769 Times
It’s not necessarily a problem that troubles Britons most of the year, or even most years. However, the recent heatwaves have had those lucky enough to own an air conditioning system in their home reaching for the dial… and the same has been happening all over the globe. Indeed, in countries with warmer climates than ours, ramping up the AC in summer is second nature.
But could this short-term preventative measure be having a long-term detrimental impact on our planet? It’s a widely shared belief that the rising temperatures experienced around the globe are a direct impact of manmade climate change, which is exacerbated by pollution… but operating AC systems necessitates the consumption of electricity, which itself is a cause of much contamination in our environment. Are heatwaves and AC a vicious circle destined to only ever get worse?
A necessary evil
More sophisticated air monitoring networks allow us to gauge pollution levels in and around power plants and determine when the systems are most under stress. In places like the United States, the use of AC during summertime is so commonplace that it accounts for 30% of all energy consumption in the warmer months. At peak hours, when people are arriving home after a hard day’s work, that percentage can shoot up to 60% or even 70%. In countries which suffer from a less varied climate than America, such as in the Middle East, for example, the use of AC can be a constant all year round.
However, recent catastrophes show that we can’t simply turn the AC off. The serious heatwave which plagued Japan last month and this was declared a natural disaster and claimed the lives of over 80 people. In Quebec in Canada, a similar occurrence took the lives of 70 people, while even on the temperate shores of Britain, experts have warned that elevated temperatures put human life at risk.
Everything in moderation
So what’s the solution? Using AC sensibly. This means only selecting temperatures which you really require, only switching it on when you really need it and - most importantly of all - switching it off when you’re not at home. The amount of people who leave AC running while they’re at work or otherwise engaged outside of the house is staggering and cumulatively results in a huge amount of needless energy consumption.
Fortunately, the wonders of modern technology mean that you can automate the turning off and on of heating and cooling apparatus around your home through Smart-enabled devices. While some critics have argued that Smart home automation may be more trouble than it’s worth since the devices consume more electricity than standard ones, the advantages of turning off appliances when not in use can offset any losses incurred due to their higher energy consumption. But regardless of whether you go Smart or standard, remember to turn that AC off!
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