Today, only about 6% of Indian households use air conditioners, but as income levels rise, air conditioner sales are increasing by 10 to 15 percent every year. The International Energy Agency estimates that by 2040, 70% of Indian households will own an AC. This rapid expansion of the AC market in India poses challenges. First, the energy required to run those new units strains the electric grid, and adds to the burden of air pollution as well as heat-trapping climate pollution. On top of that, the refrigerant gases used in most air conditioners are greenhouse gases. National Research Development Corporation (NRDC) and our partners are working in India to advance strategies that will help keep India cool while protecting its citizens from the impacts of global warming. Several new government initiatives are aimed at expanding the market for super-efficient air conditioners and helping manufacturers embrace less harmful refrigerant gases. The state-run agency Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) recently announced a new plan to help consumers replace old air conditioners with new super-efficient air conditioners, at zero upfront cost. The owners would pay back the cost over a period of two or three years through savings on their electric bills. The agency has issued a request for proposals to supply 100,000 of the new air conditioners, which are 40% more energy efficient than the top rated units on the Indian market today. In future, EESL may also stipulate that new units should use more climate-friendly refrigerants. India’s Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) will soon be rolling out its new star rating system, the Indian Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (ISEER) for air conditioners. Under this new rating system, a 5-Star AC will have a minimum ISEER of 4.5. The new super-efficient ACs promoted by EESL will have an even higher ISEER of 5.2. To help consumers understand that an energy-efficient unit saves money, the BEE has launched a mobile app called BEE Star Label, which allows shoppers to calculate their electricity consumption and cost savings. Finally, under its Make in India initiative, the Government is encouraging manufacturing and service sector leaders to build a workforce of skilled technicians and professionals who can effectively help transition the Indian AC market to using low global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants. Integrating energy efficiency improvements with low GWP refrigerants can generate multiple benefits. By supporting the industry to make this transition smoothly, the Government is moving toward a cleaner energy future. (Courtesy: www.nrdc.org)
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