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Cold Comfort for Kyoto

Carbon implications from increasing residential cooling demand

(funded by Pilkington Energy Efficiency Trust)

This scoping report looks at the need for cooling as temperatures increase towards 2020, and the impact energy intensive cooling options in the residential sector could have on the UK carbon emissions target. By analysing attitudes and behaviour to the higher temperatures it creates a number of possible cooling scenarios based on air-conditioning use. It then explores low and no-energy cooling options to synthesise a series of policy options and recommendations.

Read the Cold Comfort report

Conclusions

Energy consumption from cooling could be as high as 11TWh if we demand ever higher levels of comfort and cooling and try to meet this solely using air-conditioning. This is equivalent to 4.9 Mt of carbon dioxide emitted every year. However, if we maintain stable levels of comfort the energy consumption is reduced to under 8TWh. Furthermore, this can be met without any increase in energy consumption if buildings are designed or refurbished with rising temperatures in mind.

To meet this change, tighter building regulations are needed that calculates the energy needed for cooling as well as heating. This should be in place as soon as possible since any new buildings can be expected to last to at least 2050. For existing homes, refurbishments are needed. Consumers must be better informed so they are able to choose low or zero-energy options. If air-conditioning will be used, its impact must be minimised by only allowing the most energy efficient models on the market.

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