Air conditioning is cool

Cold Thoughts

by Neil Everitt

The editor of ACR News posts his own cold thoughts about the ACR industry and anything else he cares to air.

14/07/2009 11:19:05
THERE are probably very few industries which are not feeling the effects of this recession but those involved in the air conditioning industry are undoubtedly feeling it more than most, particularly after experiencing so many years of sustained and unprecedented growth.

I feel that this current downturn, however, has masked the effects of a growing anti-air-conditioning stance being taken by certain individuals, organisations and, particularly, the media.

But what is the industry doing to correct these misconceptions? I would suggest that the answer to that is a big, fat nothing!

I have had conversations with people involved in the sphere of building services mention the phrase ‘air conditioning’ out the side of their mouths and behind a cupped hand as if they were surreptitiously imparting a national secret or something non-pc and no longer socially acceptable.

It is as if air conditioning is some embarrassing, sexually-transmitted disease.

How on Earth have we allowed this situation to develop? And where do our trade associations stand on this matter? I accept that our industry, like so many others, is having to spend a lot of time defending itself against increasing mountains of legislation but we also need to defend ourselves against a public perception that air conditioning is in some way environmentally dirty.

Is it not time that this industry stood up for itself?

What technique do our ac salesmen use?
Is it: « We’d like to sell you this air conditioning system sir, but, quite frankly, as you’ve probably heard, it’s not considered to be environmentally friendly.

Have you tried natural ventilation?
Or, alternatively, why not just let your employees fry – after all, as you’ve admitted, they are a whingeing bunch of ungrateful money-grabbers. Keep them warm in winter, let them boil in summer – that’s the attitude. »

Sure, we should be looking for ways of reducing our energy load. It makes sense from a purely financial perspective, let alone any justifiable environmental reasons. Making sure buildings are suitably insulated, aren’t over-heated and lights are not used indiscriminately are all relatively easy ways to reduce energy consumption – although I would maintain that few companies are tackling these issues.

In summer, things like natural ventilation and solar shading should all be considered as a means to reduce a cooling load but don’t kid me that these things work on their own – because they just don’t!

Opponents of air conditioning hide behind ignorance, misinformation and, on occasions, downright lies. But what does this industry do to counteract, or even correct, this blatant propaganda?

As I have said many times before, cooling is every bit as relevant as heating to the human condition but when was the last time you heard anybody being critical of a decision to install a new heating system in a building purely on environmental grounds?

The air conditioning industry needs to stand up for itself and, I would suggest, that merely politely extolling the obvious virtues of energy efficient, properly controlled, correctly installed systems is not enough.

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