Cool air becomes a hot topic

Environmentalists and government officials pleaded with people yesterday to use their air conditioners in moderation because public utilities services are struggling to power the 350,000 new cooling units installed annually. Greece must build a new power station each year to keep up with demand, members of Greenpeace and the Consumer’s General Secretariat said at a press conference yesterday. The amount of electricity consumed by newly installed air-conditioning units each year is the equivalent of that produced by a 400-megawatt power station. It costs up to 300 million euros to build such a facility, the experts said. This is around double what consumers pay each year to buy new air-conditioning units. Greece has not been hit by a lengthy heat wave this summer but sales of air conditioners have remained high. Some 350,000 air-conditioning units are sold in Greece each year, whereas the British government estimates that less than 40,000 units are sold annually in Great Britain. The representatives of the two organizations said that many people are not aware of how much electricity air conditioners use and that the cooling agents which they contain can damage the environment. Greenpeace and the Consumer’s General Secretariat said they are beginning a campaign to inform the public about the environmental effects, through carbon emissions, of increased electricity use. They want to tell consumers about alternative ways of staying cool, which include using better insulation in homes and fitting rooms with ceiling fans, which use less electricity than air-conditioning units.