Two publications discuss how better air conditioners can make a better world, especially as the impacts of climate change are already here. Moreover, the high temperatures already being experienced will only get worse.

When Heat Becomes Deadly: The Importance of Next-Generation Air Conditioning

It’s time to move beyond temperature as a proxy for comfort. Next-generation cooling technologies plus evolving testing standards and performance rating systems can help.

By Ankit Kalanki of RMI, May 10, 2023

A quote from the article:

“current AC testing standards are not designed to assess efficiency in dealing with high humidity. Future standards must recognize the improvement in efficiency resulting from better humidity management and shift away from the idea of using temperature as a proxy for thermal comfort.

“Another key area that future standards must incorporate is accurately assessing the performance of AC under its native controls (instead of locking the compressor speed as mentioned earlier in this article) and at partial-load operation. Variable-speed ACs that use inverter technology can offer significantly higher savings than their fixed-speed counterparts by operating in a steady state during low cooling demand periods (instead of cycling on and off).

“But we cannot have super-efficient next-generation ACs without updating the current testing standards and performance rating systems. And this triggers a vicious loop where consumers will not demand next-generation AC products due to lack of visibility into their performance, and manufacturers will have little to no incentive to develop and bring these products to market due to low demand and unclear efficiency targets from policymakers.”

These moisture-sucking materials could transform air conditioning

Desiccants that pull water out of the air could help cool buildings more efficiently

By Casey Crownhart in the MIT Technology Review, July 26, 2023.

A quote from the article:

“As extreme heat continues to shatter records around the globe, electricity demand for air conditioning is expected to triple in the next few decades—an increase of about 4,000 terawatt-hours between 2016 and 2050, according to the International Energy Agency, or roughly the same electricity demand as the entire US electrical grid in 2022

“That’s why the race to build more efficient air conditioners has become increasingly urgent. While some companies are focused on improving existing designs, others are looking to entirely new systems that use materials called desiccants. These systems could cool more efficiently, even in extreme heat and humidity, reducing stress on the grid.”

(This article is discussed in Kalanki’s article, in the adjacent reference.)