Bloomberg News reports that as nations—such as India—reach the $10,000 annual income threshold, basic air conditioning becomes affordable and sales boom. Entry-level units, however, raise environmental concerns.
Bloomberg News cites an estimate that “the world will add 1 billion ACs before the end of the decade”—a doubling of the market.
More than 80% of India’s billion-plus population currently lacks access to air conditioning.
Oppressive heat slows labor, with productivity decreasing about “2% for every degree Celsius increase,” according to a study that examined thousands of Indian factories, Bloomberg said.
The head of the India wing of Daikin Industries Ltd, the world’s largest AC manufacturer, told Bloomberg that “sales have grown more than 15 times” in recent years due to need and increased affordability.
Improved standards for AC are important because a common coolant, hydrofluorocarbons (HFC), could have 1,000 times the climate warming potency of carbon dioxide.
The US and European Union have set stricter standards and have lowered energy use from appliances by 15% in recent years, according to BloombergNEF.
Nations are now pledging to decrease HFC consumption—and the US Senate recently agreed to reduce US consumption by 85% within fifteen years.
India’s cooling needs are severe, however. Temperatures reached 50°C (122°F) on the subcontinent last year, killing hundreds of people.
Naresh Tatavet, a chauffeur in Delhi, told Bloomberg that when someone in his neighborhood purchases an AC, “we bring them sweets to celebrate.” He added, “I don’t want to wake up drenched in sweat anymore.”