What’s Better For the Environment, a Fan or Air Con?

What’s Better For the Environment, a Fan or Air Con?

Keeping cool in hot weather is difficult at best, and considerably more so when attempting to do it in a sustainable manner. Scientists have identified strategies to keep cool while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by looking at both human comfort and the cost-benefit analysis of employing fans and air conditioning (AC). The United States presently consumes as much power for air conditioning as the United Kingdom as a whole. According to the International Energy Agency, air conditioning and electric fans account for a fifth of all power consumed in buildings worldwide, or 10% of total global electricity consumption, and this figure is expected to climb as the globe heats.

Researchers headed by a team from the University Of Sydney (US) discovered that by combining indoor fans with air conditioning, it is feasible to preserve human comfort indoors in hot weather while minimizing dependency on air conditioning. The use of fans, in example, can increase the interior thermal threshold – the temperature at which it becomes unpleasant for people – by up to 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit), while using the air conditioner less saves power usage. If this strategy were implemented in Australia, annual emissions and costs related with cooling interior areas might be reduced by 70%.

In a statement, lead author Dr Arunima Malik, Senior Lecturer in Sustainability at the School of Physics and Business School in the United States, said, “The latest ‘IPCC Sixth Assessment Report on Mitigation of Climate Change’ emphasizes the need for adoption of low-emission lifestyles, including cooling choices for thermal comfort.” “Our research shows that low-cost technologies like fans have the potential to help fulfill the Paris Agreement’s carbon reduction targets.”

They used five alternative scenarios in their model to compare energy usage and corresponding emissions. One had solely air conditioning, but the other four had fans at various speeds and only utilized AC when the temperature became too hot to bear. They discovered that the scenario with the fastest fan delivering airspeed flows of 1.2 meters per second used 76 percent less energy than the one with the slowest fan.

“We needed to compute hourly temperature data for a whole year, for the entire continent, using a 150,000-cell raster grid to do this computation. We were able to do this with the help of supercomputers “Professor Manfred Lenzen of the School of Physics, a co-senior author, said. If all of Australia’s power comes from fossil fuel plants, switching to fan + AC may save 3,883 kilotonnes of CO2 per year, reducing Australia’s yearly greenhouse gas emissions from 5,091 kilotonnes to 1,208 kilotonnes. However, it’s still a drop in the bucket compared to the issues that will need to be solved on the way to net zero.

Professor Ollie Jay, Director of the Heat and Health Research Incubator at the Faculty of Medicine and Health at US, said, “We know that lowering greenhouse gas emissions is the only way we will prevent future global warming.” “You can feel the same at a greater temperature as you would at a lower temperature with an air conditioning machine by enhancing interior air flow using fans. This is a really simple thing that most people can do right now to help decrease the massive emissions produced by cooling homes and indoor areas in Australia.” ​