The impact of air conditioning system upgrade on energy use and comfort in low income housing

The impact of air conditioning system upgrade on energy use and comfort in low income housing


Lachlan Mudge and Wasim Saman

Organisation of Presenter:

University of South Australia, Australia


The ‘Beat The Heat!’ project was a project of the Australian Federal Governments ‘Low Income Energy Efficiency Program’ (LIEEP).  This project aimed to enhance the resilience and improve the comfort and wellbeing of Adelaide households during South Australias long, hot summers.  The installation of ceiling insulation and new air-conditioners in the main living areas of low-income households were two of the key interventions made through this project.  Total electrical energy consumption of each household and the air-conditioner were monitored following these interventions and compared with electricity bills before the installation, during matched summer periods.  Indoor temperatures of the main living area were also monitored, following the intervention, to assess the improvement in thermal comfort.  Significant differences between the energy use before and after household interventions, along with associated household perceptions, are discussed in this paper.  Specifically, the impact on energy consumption of factors such as household income, the source of cooling energy prior to the intervention and differences in climate and thermal comfort are explored.  For houses where an old, inefficient and ineffective air-conditioner was replaced by a new, efficient split system (3.23<EER<4.83), a 16% average reduction in mains energy was observed following the intervention.  This was partly driven by an overall reduction in electrical energy for cooling, but was also influenced by a change in the households ability to enjoy a more comfortable environment.