Air conditioning NZ is important to many homes and businesses, and choosing the right system can be a big investment. When buying, you need to consider the cost of ownership, energy efficiency, safety, and the environmental impact. Getting it wrong can have more negative effects than you might expect.
New Zealand has not had any major changes to energy efficiency standards of air conditioning in commercial buildings for over 25 years. Despite the fact that the cost of electricity has decreased, cooling loads in New Zealand commercial buildings are increasing.
Cooling demand is expected to grow by 3% annually for the next three decades. This is a considerable increase. It will have a significant impact on electricity supply in NZ.
Air conditioners and heat pumps are popular in NZ. Heat pumps use less electricity than conventional electric heaters. However, heat pumps must be properly installed and used.
The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) publishes data on the energy use of different sectors in NZ. Its website Energywise displays this information.
An analysis of the energy performance of buildings in NZ suggests that we could achieve 40% less energy demand per new building if we reduced the amount of air conditioning in our commercial buildings. To help us achieve this, policy changes will need to be adopted.
Air conditioning has become a necessity rather than a luxury in New Zealand. This has resulted in an increased reliance on air-conditioning in commercial buildings. It has also contributed to the increased use of cheap electricity. However, policy changes are needed to reduce the demand for energy and the operational costs of cooling.
In practice, there are few incentives to promote the energy efficiency of commercial buildings. The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) provides data on energy use in various sectors, but offers little insight into establishing a policy for reducing cooling loads in buildings.
There is also little systematic feedback on the effects of improving energy efficiency. For example, the minimum energy-efficiency requirements are not the same as the best way to achieve those results.
Although thermal modelling is an important consideration, it is not necessarily a good representation of energy efficient design. Instead, it can be a useful way of comparing a reference building’s performance with a similar one that has been optimised for efficiency.
Cost of ownership
The cost of running an air conditioner is rising in the land of the long summer days. In the NZ market, there are about twenty five percent of householders in fuel poverty, a statistic that is hardly surprising given the country’s reliance on imported fuel. It’s no wonder that the government is a bit concerned.
In particular, the cost of energy to the commercial sector has decreased significantly since the nation’s electricity industry was privatised in the 1980s. To offset this loss, the government has enacted a number of schemes to help out start-ups and existing businesses alike. One such scheme is the energy efficient buildings act, which aims to ensure that buildings that meet certain criteria are built to last.
Another scheme is the ACT Government’s Energy Efficiency Programme, which aims to reduce the energy consumption of commercial and residential buildings alike. This is a laudable feat given that the country boasts 60% hydropower and a comparatively low carbon footprint.
Air conditioning in commercial buildings is increasing in New Zealand due to inexpensive energy. In the last twenty-five years, the legal standards for building energy efficiency have not changed. This analysis argues for policy changes to reduce the use of air conditioning in NZ’s commercial buildings.
The main factors driving the increase in the use of air conditioning in NZ’s buildings are the lower cost of electricity, lack of regulation and reliance on air-conditioning. It is also worth noting that the NZ government is committed to reducing carbon emissions to zero by 2050. However, the impact of air-conditioning on buildings in NZ is still not well understood.
Several studies have looked at the negative health impacts of environmental heat. However, research on the contribution of air-conditioning systems to total global warming potential (GWP) has not been conducted at city level. There is a need to better understand the effect of cooling on buildings in order to develop effective policies.