According to an in-depth study conducted by the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC) and the Carlos III University of Madrid (UC3M) it is deemed that the use of air conditioning units in private homes consumes up to 1/3 of the total electricity count in use throughout the summer months, which is when the energy use is in greatest demand in large cities. The aim of this research was to establish not just the consumption of energy, but also how it might impact on the environment.
The main reason for this research was to calculate the total energy used by air conditioning units in residential properties in a built up city and to determine the potential of saving energy by increasing the effectiveness of the equipment. If the right course of action is taken it is believed that the peak electrical demand could be reduced, which might be achieved by improving on the efficiency of the air conditioning units or by using an alternative source of energy. The data derived from this search might well be interesting for the utility companies to help in reshaping the way the electricity grid runs.
In order to conduct the survey, the research team was able to simulate the effects of electricity used in the Autonomous Community, situated in Madrid. To assist with this, the researchers replied on data acquired from the Instituto Nacional de Estadística (National Institute of Statistics) which was able to highlight the total volume of air-conditioning and climate control units installed in a specific local area. With this data in mind and taking into account seasonal consumption, they estimated the total energy consumption for the entire population.
According to those in charge of the research, it might well be very beneficial to establish the levels of carbon dioxide which results from the energy required for controlling air conditioning systems on a nationwide scale. In truth, this particular type of climate control has the potential to see significantly improvement, mostly due to the availability of cooling systems which are able to run on solar energy. If is viable to lower the consumption of energy through the use of the latest generation of air conditioning systems, it is certainly believed that carbon dioxide emissions will be lowered, which is one the central gasses having an effect on the greenhouse gas balance.
In order to continue the research, the team at UC3M’s Energy Systems Engineering is starting to experiment with absorption machines and heat pumps to help with improving on the overall effectiveness of cooling units which operate via solar energy. A heat pump can be designed to operate more efficiently if running on solar power.
A further line of research relates to adapting the consumption to better meet demand, which might mean when cooling isn’t required, the machine is able to consume much less energy. However, this might be difficult to achieve as the cooling machine often consumes significantly more power when running at partial load rather than at there optimal performance level. In truth, the typical residential air conditioning system functions at no more than 50% capacity in Madrid throughout the summer months. The objective of the research is to improve on the performance of the cooling machines at this partial load level as that is where the main benefits will be gained.