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AC demand in developing countries could put chill on energy supply

August 11, 2013

The United States uses more energy for air conditioning than all other countries combined, but its status as the world's largest AC energy hog may soon be in jeopardy, according to UMTRI research professor Michael Sivak.

A new study by Sivak, director of the Sustainable Worldwide Transportation consortium, shows that if the rest of the world adopts the same AC usage patterns found in the United States--and more and more countries certainly are--eight nations have the potential to surpass the American yardstick of high air-conditioning use.

"Several developing countries rank among both the most populous and hottest areas in the world," Sivak said. "As personal incomes rise in these countries, use of air conditioning will likely go up, leading to an unprecedented increase in energy demand. Rapid increases in the ownership of air conditioners are already occurring in many developing countries."

Sivak's study, appearing in American Scientist, examined the local climate and size of population for 170 countries around the world. He used a measure known as cooling-degree days, which provides an index of the energy demand required to cool indoor spaces. One cooling-degree day occurs for each degree the average daily outdoor temperature is above 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

Read the full story in The University Record