Recommendations room air conditioners

Policy recommendations for download (pdf, October 2014)

Recommendations in short

The new Energy Label for Air conditioners with classes up to A+++ applies since January 2013 (regulation No 626/2011). The new Topten lists of the most energy efficient air conditioners show that the efficiency has made huge progress since the introduction of the new Energy Label:

  • Eleven models already reach the top class A+++ (cooling) / A+++ (heating).
  • The new models are very efficient: benchmark values are SEER = 10.1, SCOP = 5.9.
  • Climate-friendly refrigerants start entering the market: three new models use R-32 instead of R-410A, with a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 550 instead of 1975.

The new Label is based on the Seasonal Energy Efficiency indicators SEER (cooling) and SCOP (heating function), which also consider the efficiency of part load function.  The new efficiency calculation no longer discourages part load efficiency and brings a big improvement. Because the measurement standard for part load testing was developed at the same time as the Energy Label, it was difficult to know what values would be reached according to the new test standard. A test of an efficient Chinese air conditioner by Topten in 2011 implied that the top class of the new Label would already be met.

Indeed the energy Label could have been designed more ambitiously. Many models already reach the top classes, and the thresholds for A+++/A+++ (8.5 / 5.1) are exceeded by nearly 20% (cooling) and 16% (heating) - after the new Label has been in place for little more than one year.

A main fault of the policy measures is that the Label and the Ecodesign requirements for single- and double-ducts are based on a separate measurement and Labelling scale. The Energy Label protects these generally very inefficient products instead of making their low performance visible to consumers. Class A for single / double-ducts corresponds to class F of Air conditioners – 50% less efficient. In reality these so-called Local Air Coolers (LACs) are even less efficient: most of these products are not able to run at part load, the waste heat is delivered into the room, and many require a window or wall opening through which warm air is sucked into the room which they are supposed to cool.

Key policy recommendations:

1. Update the Energy Label to keep it effective

The Energy Label should be updated soon to retrieve the original A-G scheme and to keep posing an incentive for further efficiency developments.

2. No protection of inefficient technologies

The same Labelling scheme, test method and Ecodesign requriements should apply to Single- and Double-Ducts as for other air conditioners.

3. Phase out high-GWP refrigerants

The Label should bear an icon showing if a model contains a low-GWP or a high-GWP-refrigerant. Future Ecodesign requirements should aim at phasing out high-GWP refrigerants in air conditioners – faster and more completely than the revised F-gas regulation.

market monitoring

4. Systematic Market Monitoring

The air conditioner market should be monitored annually based on sound sales data. Such a market monitoring would allow evaluating the impacts of policy measures, planning revisions on time, deciding on new Label and Ecodesign requirement thresholds, and basing stock and consumption models upon.

October 2014