HVAC Home Repair

Electricity-operated air conditioners (stand-alone units) are among the most inefficient and nonsensical power guzzlers that are currently spreading at a rapid rate.

In recent years, they have been increasingly offered as seasonal goods by DIY stores and discounters. Media Markt and Saturn are very active in promoting these devices, which are mostly superfluous in Germany, to discounters. According to the Federal Environment Agency, around 140,000 air conditioners are purchased in Germany every year. As a result, the demand for electricity is also rising. For cooling and air conditioning, it recently amounted to around eight percent of total consumption. Since 2004, mobile air conditioners have had to bear the EU label. This consumption label is therefore theoretically an absolute matter of course for the electrical markets. It is therefore all the more frightening that we are registering clear gaps here. And this applies to appliances for which consumers urgently need to be made aware of the high electricity consumption and the differences between appliances. After all, air conditioners can become the biggest consumer of electricity in the household.

Annual consumption of 600 kWh/year and more is quickly reached.
In the past, the Metro Group with the discounters Media Markt and Saturn attracted negative attention. Already years ago, BUND had proven in a weak-point analysis that these electrical stores sell a particularly large number of energy-consuming appliances and often inform their customers poorly or not at all about them. It fits into the negative picture if a product as important as air conditioners does not even comply with the statutory labelling requirements. Despite other assurances by the Metro Group, electricity guzzlers are again being sold here without providing sufficient information about the high electricity consumption. But BUND wants more than (actually self-evident) compliance with statutory regulations: We demand from all electrical stores that these inefficient devices are not advertising is done anymore. If individual air conditioners are nevertheless offered in the range, the high power consumption and the associated follow-up costs must be clearly pointed out. Legal labelling is the basis for this. But consumers need further, clear information that using the device on only a few days a year means a significant increase in electricity consumption.

1.Air conditioners are power guzzlers

Air conditioning systems require a great deal of energy for cooling or heating: powerful fans have to circulate the air and the heat pump requires a powerful built-in compressor. In principle, air conditioning systems work like refrigerators, but instead of 150 to 200 litres, entire rooms have to be cooled. A normal air conditioner has a power consumption during operation that corresponds to the amount of energy-saving lamps needed to illuminate 50 living rooms. There are hardly any upper limits to electricity consumption if appliances with higher electricity consumption are used for more than 500 hours a year. And even if an average air conditioner only runs on 30 days of heat per year, the additional electricity consumption is 220 kWh/a.

By comparison, a modern refrigerator that runs all year round consumes 200 kWh/a (an economical 2-person household consumes between 1000 and 1400 kWh/a).

2. Air conditioners must be labelled with the EU label

Since December 2004, air conditioners with a cooling capacity of less than 12 kW have had to be labelled. At first glance, the EU label provides information on how the air conditioner performs in terms of energy efficiency by dividing it into classes.

For example, a class A appliance consumes about 11 – 15 % less energy than a class C appliance, depending on the type of appliance. If you’re looking for an air conditioner, then you should always choose energy efficiency class A. An energy-saving fan is always the better alternative.

3. Air conditioners are becoming a mass phenomenon

Room air conditioners are booming: 140,000 units were sold in 2002 alone. The hotter the summer, the higher the sales. Heating engineers and electricity suppliers are already smelling the effects of energy-intensive household appliances and are strongly advertising them. It is to be feared that this trend will continue. In 2002 alone, German CO2 emissions rose by 57 million kg CO2 due to the additional electricity demand caused by the new air conditioners. If air conditioners continue to be thrown onto the market with force, it is to be feared that this figure will continue to rise in the future.

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