New BEE Ratings for Air Conditioning

From the beginning of 2104—and in line with past practice—the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) has updated their rating system for all appliances including lights, fans and air-conditioners. I’m only going to talk about air conditioners here because they are, by far, the biggest guzzlers of electricity.

Energy efficiency is calculated as a ratio of output Watts v/s input Watts. So, if a 3,500W (1 Tonne) air conditioner needs 1,200W to run, then the EER is 2.92.  Up to the end of 2011, that would have made it a 4-star machine. In 2012 and 2013, it would have been considered a 3-star machine. Today, that same machine will be considered a 2-starrer. So yes, as technology improves, the ratings are revised and made a little more stringent—which is how it should be. Have a look at the table below to get an idea of the changes.

BEE Rating History

BEE Ratings over the last few years

While this is good, it may not be good enough.  As this article shows, the entry level for a single star is on par with many other countries but the higher ratings are somewhat below world averages.  Also, manufacturers of inverter air conditioners have long been saying that their machines cannot be rated because they are “better than 5-star”.  Checking the specifications for the ones available in India shows that many of them have an average EER greater than 3.5 but none cross 4.0 even for minimum cooling–whereas the same companies manufacture models for other countries with a higher EER.

This could be because of two factors:

  1. There is not enough incentive to go beyond the maximum available rating since the average person (and even most architects) won’t easily be able to compare two models for energy efficiency.
  2. Models with a a higher EER are more expensive to manufacture and the Indian market is notoriously price-sensitive.

While there’s not much anyone can do about the second factor, the first can certainly be tackled by raising the bar for ratings. As more and more people resort to artificially cooling their indoor environment instead of availing passive cooling (thanks to current architectural trends) our energy situation is getting more and more precarious.

Energy Calculator for Air-Conditioners in India

More and more people are installing air-conditioners in their homes these days thanks in large part to the concrete hot-boxes being constructed in our cities and the heat-island effect. Added to that is the fact that many commercial buildings have senseless glass façades – which makes them even-hotter-boxes. Net result: the amount of energy being consumed in urban areas is rising at an alarming rate.  The archaically-named Bureau of Energy Efficiency or BEE has been more proactive than many other government agencies in trying to make a change in this regard.  They’ve created mandatory star ratings for refrigerators, fluorescent lamps and air-conditioners and voluntary ratings for other appliances like fans and geysers.

They’ve also created an associated site with a great energy calculator that you can use to check how much money you would save by using air-conditioners with higher star ratings.  I’ve seen similar calculators on the net that cater to the USA or Europe but it’s great to have one that is valid for us in India. It basically tells you how many rupees you would save based on your usage and on city you live in. At this time, there are 17 major Indian cities in the list and, if you can’t find your own, look for one that has a similar climate and temperature range.  You must remember that such calculators make lots of assumptions so while they should give you a fairly accurate idea, don’t expect that figures to be 100% accurate.

The site also has some basic tips on saving energy and I feel that BEE should make calculators for other appliances as well – especially light fittings and fans.

Now if only they’d remove that asinine piggy-bank mascot…

Solar Powered Air Conditioners Released

This is the ideal air conditioner – the hotter the sun gets the better the a/c works. Still, there have been drawbacks that made such machines non-viable. Now, a company called GreenCore Air has released a hybrid unit that claims to have solved the inefficiency problem.

Go to :: GreenCore The website has been squatted upon.  Try this company instead.
via :: MetaEfficient