Why Most European Homes Don’t Install Air Conditioning

  Air conditioning has long been viewed by Europeans as an “unnecessary luxury” and a “threat to destroy the planet”. Some European scholars have also ridiculed the dependence of other countries on air conditioning.
  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 90 percent of U.S. households now have air conditioning. According to data from the China Household Electrical Appliances Association, in 2020, the average number of air conditioners owned by Chinese residents per 100 households has increased to 117.7 units.
  In comparison, although European offices are usually equipped with air conditioners, the number of European home air conditioners is surprisingly low. According to industry estimates, only 3% of households in Germany are air-conditioned, and less than 5% in France and the UK.
  But what Europeans didn’t expect was that they would face such record-setting extreme heat this year. On July 19, the temperature in London, England once reached 40.2°C, which was the hottest day since the British meteorological observation records began in 1841. Since there is no air conditioner in the house, the British can only use aluminum foil to stick the doors and windows, or put a large bowl of ice cubes in front of the fan to cool down. In France, Spain, Greece, Italy and other places, high temperature and drought triggered wildfires, and large areas were “scorched”. In Portugal, Spain and other places, more than 1,700 people were killed by heat waves.
  As the temperature soared, Europeans couldn’t stand it anymore. British retailer Sainsbury’s said on July 18 that sales of portable mobile air conditioners had increased by 2,420% in a week. In London, many air-conditioning installers have their schedules pushed into winter as demand for central air-conditioning soars.
  The number one reason Europeans don’t want to install air conditioners is that it’s not that hot. Even in summer, many countries rarely exceed 30°C, and high temperatures above 37°C are even rarer. Summers in European countries are milder than elsewhere, with few sustained high temperatures. Even if the temperature is high, the air in Rome may not be as humid and muggy as Tokyo, Washington DC or elsewhere. In the UK, the average summer temperature is generally between 13°C and 24°C. Most people think that there are only a few difficult days in summer, so there is no need to buy an air conditioner.
  Secondly, the installation of air conditioners is not only expensive in terms of equipment and labor costs, but also extremely complicated to install. Taking Spain as an example, the price of a single air conditioner is about 300 to 1,400 euros; the cost of installing a single air conditioner is about 300 to 400 euros. In order to save money, many people choose a portable air conditioner that does not need to install an external unit. The price is between 350 and 600 euros, but this kind of machine consumes more electricity.
  In addition, the air conditioner is not installed at will. For example, most houses in the UK are not built with air conditioning in mind. One in six homes in the UK were built before 1900 and 46% were built between 1930 and 1982, many of which were built from bricks without sufficient building cavities. Pre-installed hot water and electricity systems also get in the way, making air-conditioning difficult and expensive to install. What’s more troublesome is that if you live in a place such as an apartment with an owner’s committee, you must vote on the owner’s committee before installing the air conditioner to discuss whether it will disturb the neighbors, affect the appearance, or damage the building.
  It was also pointed out that Europeans may have some “dislike” for air conditioners in their hearts. For many Britons, air conditioning is a bit of “upstart”, “foreigner” and “American”. However, if the weather continues to be this hot, it is estimated that they will not feel so. Air conditioning may one day become a necessity in European homes as hot days become more frequent.
  However, what “tangles” Europeans is that air conditioning may increase carbon emissions and exacerbate climate problems; with global warming, more air conditioning will become necessary to maintain human survival. This will create a vicious cycle.
  In this regard, some scientists said that instead of persuading countries to no longer use air conditioners, it is better to make air conditioners more energy-efficient and formulate energy efficiency standards. Some experts also believe that in order to achieve the goal of net zero emissions, more “passive” cooling methods should be promoted, such as heat insulation, sunshade, tree planting, etc.

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