Air Conditioners: How Cool Is Cool Enough?The government has advised manufacturers of air conditioners in India to keep the default setting of temperature at 24 degrees to save both power and money for the consumer and reduce emission of greenhouse gases. During a meeting with a representative body of the manufacturers, the power minister, RK Singh, pointed out to a study conducted by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency to say that keeping the default temperature at 24 degrees will result in all round savings. He also pointed out that countries like Japan have kept it at 28 degrees.
By Linus Garg
Recognizing that the default setting will be meaningless (since anyone can reduce it to 18 or even 16 degrees with the flick of a button) if the public is not educated about the necessity of maintaining an optimal temperature, the government spelled out plans to carry out a campaign in this regard. The government advised the manufacturers to label their equipment with optimal temperature advice to the consumer and educate him in this regard. The manufacturers agreed with the government advisory and called it a step in the right direction. The government also said that public buildings like airports, hotels, shopping malls, cinema theatres and private and government offices will be targeted first to keep this optimal temperature in the range of 24-26 degrees as per local conditions and rush of visitors.
There is no doubt that a lot of energy is wasted in running air conditioners at temperatures lower than what is optimally required by the human body. People mindlessly keep the setting at 16 or 28 degrees and when they feel cold, they use warm clothes during daytime or blankets at night instead of raising the temperature. Unwittingly, they incur a financial loss for themselves and contribute to energy wastage and increased emission of harmful gases. The government can also ask the manufacturers to go for programmable thermostat air conditioners that will adjust room temperature to set default as per rise or fall in outside temperature.
But coupled with this excellent initiative, the government must also advise people on changing their formal dressing to Indian conditions. Aping the West in making jackets and suits compulsory office wear contributes to keeping offices cooler than normally required. For instance, why are judges and lawyers required to wear those black robes or coats in the stuffy heat of India? Formal dressing in India must change and must be in line with our weather conditions. That will immediately make people keep air conditioners at the optimal temperature of 24-26 degrees.
Then, in line with GRIHA energy recommendations, builders must be asked to make energy efficient buildings. If roofs and walls are tailored not to absorb heat, or absorb lesser heat, the need to keep lower than optimal temperature for air conditioners will vanish. While many green buildings are coming up and most offices, airports and shopping malls now make energy saving facades outside the building to keep the heat at bay, a lot more needs to be done in this regard. The government must also take this up urgently.