Insights Brief: Space Cooling

Insights Brief: Space Cooling
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Edition: 2017
9 pages

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 recommedations?

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.