When the weather forecast talks about sweltering temperatures, you probably don’t take too much notice if you live an “air conditioned” life – in the morning, you walk from your cool house to your air conditioned car and drive to your air conditioned office. Indeed, how would you survive the summer months without air conditioning?
According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, US homeowners spend around $15 billion on home cooling systems, and about 5% of all the electricity produced in America is consumed by traditional air conditioning units. All this cooling releases some 127 million metric tons of CO2 (carbon dioxide) – a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.
In the 150 years since the industrial revolution, CO2 emissions have increased by 25%. Presently, fossil fuels provide 85% of the energy consumed in America. The Energy Information Administration reports that burning coal and petroleum accounts for 80% of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.
As temperatures continue to increase, the demand for air conditioning will rise. Since 1920, the global surface temperature has increased by 1.4 degrees (F) and scientists expect a further increase of anywhere between 2 and 11.5 degrees (F) by the end of this century.
The only way to put the brakes on the adverse effects of climate change is to reduce the use of fossil fuels and replace them with renewable sources of energy. Until now, the only way to lower energy consumed by air conditioners has been to simply turn them off. Fortunately, we now have solar systems to power our air conditioners. The use of solar systems can allow us to keep enjoying our air conditioning without harming the environment and without causing huge electricity bills.