Air Conditioners Are Heating Up Our Planet

They're seen as a life-saver in most Aussie homes over summer, but the long-term effects of air conditioners on the planet may not be worth the quick reprieve from a heatwave.

With our planet heating up, the World Economic Forum (WEF) is warning that AC units are significantly worsening the impact of energy emissions.

By 2050 WEF predicts the world will be more than a degree and a half warmer than it is right now. Air conditioners are fast-becoming the elephant in our living rooms when it comes to what we can do to reduce our own carbon footprint.

Recurring wild weather events -- such as the current heatwave that is sizzling southern parts of Australia -- are increasingly being directly linked to the effects of climate change.

This, in turn,  is spurring demand for more AC units across Australia and the world.  New data predicts their emissions alone, are tipped to increase global temperatures by 0.5 degrees by the next century.

But despite increasing evidence to show their negative long-term impacts, consumers are still turning to their AC units for a quick-reprieve from these abnormal temperatures. Now, a U.S. report is warning that its creating a 'vicious cycle' in the fight against global warming.

The report from the Rocky Mountain Institute has estimated the number of air conditioners will grow by more than three billion in just a few short decades. It also found that developing countries alone will see a five-fold increase in the number of AC units currently available.

The research is part of a growing push for the introduction of "radically efficient" air conditioners that would have five times less impact on the environment.

READ MORE: Climate Change Directly Responsible For Some Extreme Weather Events: Study

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Researchers claim these devices potentially hold the only change to address the cooling challenge that is facing our planet in the future.

The damning report found our prioritisation, as consumers, of low-cost over life-cycle cost was fueling the "sluggish pace of innovation in the air-conditioning industry."

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"The AC manufacturers pursue high volumes of sales by selling units to consumers at low prices; those units' energy efficiencies simply meet or marginally exceed the Minimum Energy Performance Standards," the report said.

What Can you Do To Reduce Your Emissions

According to the World Economic Forum newer AC units can cut energy use by up to half when compared to older models.

In early December the NSW government announced it would be going ahead with its plan to discount energy efficient air conditioners for households and small businesses.

Under the plan, homeowners who want to upgrade or install new air conditioners can get discounts of up to one thousand dollars.

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“The program is expected to return a state-wide power bill saving of around $20 million and reduce the generation load by 90,000 megawatt hours,” Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said.

“For example, replacing a two star five kilowatt unit with a modern efficient five star unit, could save around $675 in power bills over the air conditioner’s lifetime.

“The NSW Government also wants to encourage people installing units for the first time to buy the most energy efficient models.

Upton said they were expecting 15,000 households and small businesses to have taken advantage of the discount by May 2020.

Other air conditioning energy rebates for various state and territories can be found here. 

Featured Image: Getty Images

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