Air conditioning costs to cause discomfort

Melbourne-based startup Conry Tech is highlighting the increased costs of air conditioning this year, and predicts this will bring mainstream attention to what is typically an invisible issue.

Conry Tech CEO and co-founder Sam Ringwaldt, M.AIRAH, estimates that power bills for air conditioning will be over $12.4 billion in 2023, given recent energy price rises. This figure is up significantly ($2.5 billion) since 2020.

“Air conditioning is simultaneously everywhere and nowhere,” says Ringwaldt. “It is all around us, in virtually every building in Australia, yet we never read about it, talk about it, think about it, or begin to question it, unless it’s not working.

“This year may be a tipping point, however. Australians could spend more money on AC energy bills than ever before this summer, and there are several reasons why it will be at the forefront of their minds. Energy prices have spiked, more people are working from home, and El Niño is set to return in 2023. Our AC units will be on constantly, and costing us more than ever.”

Against this backdrop, Ringwaldt says the industry must innovate.

“As we head into the peak aircon months in Australia, we cannot ignore the issue and continue accepting the status quo of an industry that has barely changed in 100 years. Many homes and office spaces are using AC units that are veritable dinosaurs that use more energy than they need, cost more than they should and only perform efficiently on the hottest day of the year.

“If we created aircon today with a blank sheet of paper, we would surely do it differently and do it better. The world is getting better at ripping up and replacing old and outdated ways of doing things. As nations transition from fossil fuels to renewables, and people swap their petrol cars for EVs, surely the days of bad aircon are numbered.”

Conry Tech notes that in 2020, air conditioning units consumed 36,750,000MWh in Australia. Based on Cold Hard Facts, this number is consistently rising over time (up from 30,000,000MWh in 2016). Conry Tech estimates that AC energy use in 2023 will be around 40,000,000MWh.

“Meanwhile, wholesale energy costs rose sharply this year,” says the firm. “According to the Australian Energy Regulator, the average price per megawatt hour in Australia now ranges from $210 (Victoria and Tasmania) to $257 (South Australia), up from $45–65 in 2020. Household energy costs in Australia are currently $0.319 per kWh ($319 per MWh).

“In a conservative scenario, the total wholesale AC energy bill will reach $8bn this year. For households and businesses, this figure would be over $12.4bn.

“With more people now using AC to cool their homes, more people working from home, and more extreme weather events, it is possible that this number could increase further.”

The full media release is available at the Conry Tech website.

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