BSRIA: Home AC energy use to rise in U.S.

But green HVAC will serve as a counterforce, said market research firm.

By Michael Garry

As the planet continues to warm over the next three decades, air conditioning will be one of the few home applications in the U.S. that will increase its consumption of energy in 2050 compared to 2017, but this will be mitigated by the growth of green HVAC technology.

So observed Raphael Chalogany, general manager of U.K. market research firm BSRIA, in a presentation last month at the AHR Expo in Atlanta.

Chalogany referred to a U.S. Energy Information Administration chart showing that annual air conditioning energy use would increase from about 1,700 kWh per household in 2017 to about 1,900 kWh/household. By contrast, energy use by lighting, space and water heating, refrigeration, clothing and dishwashing, and TV/PCs would decrease over that period. The only other application showing an increase (a small one) is cooking.

“Improvements in efficiency are considered in this chart,” he noted.

Chalogany also cited U.S. Department of Energy statistics showing that, on average, air conditioning accounts for 18% of U.S. annual household energy use and 12% of home energy expenditure (27% in hot-humid southern climates).

But countering the rise in energy consumption of ACs, market forces are promoting “green HVAC,” he said. “Industry believes in efficiency and promoting new low-GWP refrigerants and smart controls.”

In addition, specifiers and end users “are more aware of the solutions available and more articulated in requests for innovation and energy efficiency,” he said.

Chalogany also observed growth in “packaged [AC] solutions” over field-connected “mix-and-match equipment and controls.” He also sees a move from “responsive to predictive controls” that reduce running costs.

“Industry believes in efficiency and promoting new low-GWP refrigerants and smart controls.”
– Raphael Chalogany, BSRIA

Anette Meyer Holley, business manager, worldwide market intelligence for BSRIA, observed that unlike Europe, the current lack of governmental regulations at the federal level in the U.S. means that the phasedown of high-GWP HFC refrigerants in ACs “is expected to be slow.”

But she acknowledged activity at the state level, such as the California Cooling Act, which has targeted sharp reductions of HFC emissions. “Other states like New York, Connecticut and Maryland are also adopting HFC curbs,” she said.

Originally published on Feb 04, 2019:

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