Air conditioning has been around for about a century and for many people it is used only for comfort. Air conditioning systems are no longer a luxury for citizens throughout the world, in fact, it has become a necessity. It’s almost impossible to stay cool and comfortable and concentrate in the summer unless you have an air-conditioning system. In some places, however, air conditioning is necessary 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The problem, however, is that ac units have a harmful impact on the environment. While the benefits of air conditioning for basic everyday life are welcome during the hot and humid seasons, we must also consider the hazardous environmental effects that result from their use.
Air Conditioning Systems Are Everywhere!
Whether you’re going down the street in a crowded city or driving through an industrial park, comfort heating and cooling systems can be found everywhere. In time, they have become cheaper for businesses to manufacture, so that families, even in developing countries, can use this source of comfort.
Air conditioning systems are could well be making the environment even warmer because of their contribution to global warming.
Why are Air Conditioners Harmful to the Environment?
Air conditioning systems have several environmental impacts, but the most important is the input source and output source. These human refrigerators do not work alone; they are operated by electricity thus putting the electricity grid in the UK under additional pressure during summer months. We all know that most electricity is generated by burning fossil fuels. On a world scale, not all countries can produce electricity with hydrothermal or tidal forces. In regions where generators are used as power sources, environmental pollution is even greater as generators use crude oil products and release carbon monoxide into the environment.
Not only is energy consumption detrimental, but the gases emitted by air conditioning systems can heavily affect the environment. These gases include hydro-chlorofluorocarbons and chlorofluorocarbons. They have a negative impact on the environment as they are part of greenhouse gases that trap heat and lead to ozone depletion. Many, if not most, harmful CFCs have been eliminated by the Montreal Protocol, which aimed to reduce emissions of ozone pollutants, but the replacement refrigerants could still have a major impact on global warming. It has been said that by 2050, 27% of global warming will be due to the gases emitted by the commercial and domestic air conditioning systems. This shocking statistic is largely due to the expected increase in air conditioning usage as temperatures continue to rise and create a damaging cycle. The problem is, the warmer our environment gets, the more likely we are to install air conditioning systems.
In addition to the negative impact on the environment, the air conditioner can pose a health hazard to those who absolutely depend on it. With the continued use of an air conditioning system, the air filters lose some of their integrity and allow the passage of harmful compounds from the outside to the home or office. These can trigger allergies and, in some cases, cause eye, nose and throat irritation. Its one of many very important reasons to get your air conditioning system inspected regularly.
What Can the World Do to Reduce the Environmental Impact of Air Conditioning Systems?
So, what can be done to prevent this damage from escaping control? In the US, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed plans derived from the Montreal Protocol to help reduce the environmental impact of the harmful gases emitted. The United States should reduce the use of harmful HCFCs below the proposed limit. This would help to drastically reduce the number of pollutants entering the environment, including those from air conditioning systems.
With the world opting for greener solutions, air conditioning is under the spotlight despite the dependence in some regions. Much research has been done on producing the most environmentally friendly cooling systems in order to help save the environment, but these innovations are not spreading fast enough and there’s always a price component. The latest advances include the use of geothermal cooling systems. These geothermal HVAC systems can also be used to provide heat and hot water in domestic and commercial areas.
The EPA also suggested alternatives for the refrigerants used in air conditioning systems. These substitutes will be less damaging to ozone, which will help reduce the ‘cooling-leads-to-heating’ cycle that is currently facing the planet.
Keep in mind that this shift to newer materials and systems not only impacts the environment but also impacts the work of those working in the HVAC industry. While it is already necessary for technicians to keep their licenses and certificates up to date, they also need to receive the latest information on new cooling systems to help owners reduce their environmental impact.
KTIC Solutions are able to help commercial HVAC system owners keep on top of their UK EPBD obligations which include air conditioning inspections. Use our compliance checker, or get in touch with us to find out more about how we can help.