Here let’s talk about the practical benefits of air conditioning in homes, workplaces and societies.

How does air conditioning impact society?

The first application of modern air conditioning is actually on preventing paper from wrinkling because of heat and humidity. This is far from where we normally use our air conditioners, which is to help us feel comfortable. It was a commercial use of preventing damages and maximising profits, not necessarily bringing comfort to people.

Today in our homes and even workplaces, it could be responsible for up to 40 per cent of our monthly energy bills. And as standards of living improve both in developed and developing societies, more and more of us rely on air conditioners even during an ordinary day at an average temperature.

This additional comfort has actually played a role in our productivity, focus and even mood. For example, it’s hard to fall asleep if it’s a bit hot in the bedroom. With these lost hours of sleep we become irritable. It’s also hard to focus especially if it’s a mentally taxing task. In workplaces air conditioning is a must to allow people to concentrate and get something done. In businesses especially in shops (as well as indoor cafes and restaurants) the comfortable temperature is also a must if we want customers to stay and buy from us.

We can see here that the more widespread use of air conditioning is linked to economic activity and improved standards of living. And as these spread to more parts of the community, more air conditioning units also get installed. As mentioned earlier, a huge percentage of our energy bill goes to air conditioning.

The natural consequence is that we need more energy (including more sources and infrastructure) to start or continue using our air conditioners. As a society there are clear psychological, physical and economic benefits to making a room feel comfortable through heating or cooling. But there is always a price to pay for that additional comfort whether through the money we pay for energy or through the additional amounts of carbon getting processed and released to the atmosphere.

Some of us might have already thought about the environmental impact of air conditioning and our higher energy use. As a result, it’s crucial to choose highly efficient air conditioners so that every kW of energy is put to good use. Aside from saving us money, this also somehow helps the environment because less energy is being spent and lower amounts of carbon dioxide are being released. There has always been a conflict between environmental and economic benefits. What we can do for now is to somehow reduce the impact by going for higher efficiency especially when it comes to air conditioners.

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