Why discuss space cooling?
By understanding why increasing energy consumption for space cooling is a growing concern, we can properly develop effective policies and deliver efficient technologies. The five main reasons space cooling demand is on the rise include:
- Wealth and comfort: An increasing desire for, and ability to afford, the thermal comfort provided by air conditioning.
- Population growth: Rising populations in countries with warmer climates and population shifts within countries from colder to warmer regions.
- Climate and temperature: Higher average temperatures and greater frequency of extreme temperatures due to local heat-island effects and climate change.
- Design and construction: Changes in building design and a shift from heavy materials such as stone or brick to materials with less thermal mass such as wood or composites.
- Electronic devices and appliances: An increasing quantity of personal electronic devices, appliances and office equipment in buildings that generate heat as a by-product.
What are the opportunities?
Broadly there are two key space cooling opportunitities:
- Increasing cooling thermal comfort.
- Reducing the energy used to provide that cooling.
While many discussions start with the goal of reducing the energy used for cooling, long-term benefits can also be achieved by increasing cooling thermal comfort while reducing the need for space cooling. Both opportunities enable multiple benefits: lower energy bills, fewer electricity capacity constraints and less use of climate-warming refrigerants.
What are the recommendations?
Key areas for energy efficiency policy are:
- Cooling equipment (minimum energy performance standards).
- Thermal efficiency of building and heat gains.
- Key technologies are insultation, shading, windows and efficient air conditioners.
The choice of energy efficiency policies and technologies to address space cooling demand should be made using life-cycle calculations that account for the multiple benefits of energy efficiency. Policies and technologies should enable greater increased thermal comfort while reducing the total energy consumed.