The UK saw one of the hottest and driest summers on record this year, with temperatures over 30C across the country and no substantial rains to alleviate the heat. In fact, the June-July heatwave tied with temperatures in 1976, 2003, and 2006. July 26 was recorded as the hottest day of 2018 when the temperature soared to 35.3C.
Commuters were not spared, as temperatures on the London Underground hit a blistering 40C during the heatwave (far above the 30C maximum temperature legally allowed to transport cattle).
With the heat forecasted to continue rising due to global warming, many British homeowners are looking at air-conditioning units for the first time, in preparation for the next summer heatwave. But will this be a continuing trend?
The State of Air Conditioning In the UK
Back in June, the UK government issued a detailed assessment of how global warming will impact the country in the next 60 years. Scientists predict that by 2080, the temperature across the country could reach 41C.
If there will be no action from the government, the death toll due to heat can go up to 7,000 every year by 2050. Due to this, union bosses called for more flexible working hours, so employees will be able to stay out of peak sun periods (11AM to 3PM).
Air conditioning units have been commonplace in cars and commercial businesses for some time but this year’s unprecedented heatwave has have seen changes in the country’s AC demands.
1. By the numbers
There is an increasing number of newly-built homes, especially those in urban areas, which come with air-conditioning units. But the numbers are still small.
A Mintel report found that only 0.5% of homes in the UK have an air-conditioning unit installed. Radiators are the norm in the country, with AC units more commonly seen in workplaces. Installing ACs would, however, help business productivity. A NASA study revealed that employee productivity falls by 3.6% for every degree that goes beyond 22C as workers who are uncomfortable due to the heat can feel lethargic and lack inspiration and creativity.
Overall AC demand in the UK jumped from 154,000 in 2012 to 188,000 in 2017.
On a global scale, there are 1.6 billion AC units in the world. The International Energy Agency (IEA), however, predicts a 244% increase in global units sold from 2016 to 2050, with the EU seeing a possible 185% increase in its AC demand. That breaks down to 10 new AC units sold every second. Given this, air-conditioning unit sales are expected to increase from£98bn today to £197bn by 2050.
2. Effects on the climate
With the increase in AC demand comes the risk of increasing the country’s carbon footprint. Health problems are bound to ensue, as fossil fuels that power these units may cause sickness (e.g. cardiovascular disease, dementia, etc.) and death.
A 218 study published in PLOS Medicine revealed that the additional air pollution caused by ACs may cause up to 1,000 more deaths in the eastern US alone. Between 5% and 9% of deaths related to air pollution can be attributed to air conditioning.
More ACs in the country means our domestic energy consumption will also increase. In fact, energy use for ACs and other cooling appliances is predicted to increase by 90% based on 2017 levels.
By 2050, AC use will become the strongest driver of global electricity demand, according to the International Energy Agency. Due to this, global carbon emissions will also rise by 2.5 gigatonnes by 2050—up from 35 gigatonnes in the past year.
The country, however, is at the forefront of implementing strategies for more energy efficiency, as per the clean energy research initiative. Although plenty of buildings in the country are built with thick stone walls to keep constant temperatures even when seasons change, the last heatwave proves that this may not be enough.
The government also intends to give UK homes a green makeover by 2030 via cavity wall and loft insulation, which can cut household carbon emissions by a third.
AC Manufacturers Available in the UK
There are a number of air conditioning types that you can choose from, depending on your needs and building structure. We have written an extensive guide on this.
As for manufacturers, you can choose from the following:
- Daikin Air Conditioning – Daikin is one of the leading brands that provide HVAC systems around the world. The company’s focus on environmental responsibility show in features installed in their systems, such as sensors that switch off units that are not in use, inverter technology, and remote control access.
- Hitachi – With its 100 years of operation, Hitachi has become one of the most environmentally conscious companies in Japan. Their units incorporate inverter technology, high efficiency, and allows rooms to cool down quickly.
- Toshiba – Toshiba’s commitment to environmental sustainability has given the company 14 environmental awards. Its UK branch, in fact, achieved a carbon neutral status in 2012.
Keep Your Cool
Major heatwaves are predicted to continue globally until 2022 and 2018 was, in fact, correctly predicted to be unusually hot. Given the long-term trend of rising global temperatures and predictions of even hotter heatwaves, the country’s demand for AC units is only bound to increase.
Although the government should come up with ways to provide comfort to its citizens while decreasing our carbon footprint, we can also play our part. There are other ways to stay cool over the summer, such as using shutters, opening/closing curtains based on the sun’s movement, and fitting awnings for additional shade.
When choosing AC units, make sure that you pick one that is equipped with energy efficient features. If you need help with this, please feel free to give us a call at 0117 322 6150 or 0788 04 99 457, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.