Domestic air-conditioners are not widespread in Europe, but their electricity consumption is expected to more than double by 2020 and reach 75 TWh per year without energy saving measures - equal to the residential electricity consumption of Spain.
The EU has been lagging behind regions such as the US, Japan, Australia in heading off this issue. Air-conditioners not only increase the use of electricity, they threaten the balance of electricity grids during peak demand in summer. They also contain refrigerant fluids that can contribute substantially to global warming when they leak.
What’s the European Union doing?
Ecodesign requirements for room air conditioning appliances entered into force in 2012, preceded by an energy labelling regulation in 2011. Further ecodesign requirements enter/ed into force in 2013 and 2014, with a review, and the possibility of a revision expected in 2017.
What does the Coolproducts campaign want?
- Legislative scope should be extended to products up to 17 kW output, beyond the current limit of air-to-air electric mains-operated air conditioners with a rated capacity of ≤ 12 kW for cooling, and stricter efficiency levels for double duct air conditioners. A zero Watt mode should be introduced for all air-conditioners.
- Penalties for models not using green refrigerants, as the current incentive is failing to encourage more widespread use.
- Resource efficiency requirements, for instance establishing a minimum share of recycled material and ensuring products can be easily dismantled and recycled.
- Stricter market surveillance.
On the energy label
- A single energy label to replace separate ones for split, double duct and single duct products. Consistency between the energy label and Ecodesign regulation to avoid empty classes after tier 1 and tier 2 requirements.
- The label pictograms for ‘cooling function’ and ‘heating function’ (bluish or yellowish house) are unclear and too small. It would be more effective to put a large indication on the top of each scale.
Coolproducts' technical input and position papers are availble below
- Research carried out by BUND in Germany shows consumers are left in the dark about portable air conditioners (2010).