01.Queensland bans energy inefficient air conditioners
The Queensland government has introduced a ban on the sale and installation of air-conditioning units that fail to achieve an energy efficiency ratio of 2.9 or higher – equivalent to a four-star energy rating – beginning September this year.
Queenslanders are the nation's biggest users of air conditioning, spending almost a third of their electricity bill on heating and cooling their homes. By 2020, Queensland residents are expected to use almost twice the electricity as other states combined (excluding NSW) to cool their homes.
Queensland Premier Anna Bligh says the ban will reduce the demand on the state's electricity network and encourage households to be environmentally sustainable. "Every time an air conditioning unit is installed, it costs our network up to $5000. The more efficient we can make these units the less the costs to our network and the less it costs every electricity customer," she says.
The federal government’s planned minimum standards on domestic air conditioners scheduled for introduction in April 2010 require an energy efficiency ratio to fall between 2.75 and 3.33.
CHOICE welcomes the move by the Queensland government, but is concerned that the regulation places the onus upon consumers to ensure compliance with the installation ban, with fines applying for any breaches.
"Consumers could unwittingly travel to NSW to buy a cheaper air conditioner, install it, and consequently face fines," says Victoria Coleman, CHOICE Senior Sustainability Policy Officer.
CHOICE would like to see the federal government advance their schedule and increase its lower minimum standards to be in line with Queensland. National regulation in this area would place the onus on manufactures and importers by banning the import of inefficient air conditioners.
“While Queensland’s intent is good, its challenging applying this type of regulation at the consumer level. The real solution lies in ensuring retrograde and inefficient air conditioners do not enter Australia,” says Coleman. “A national approach to ban imports is required.”
CHOICE reminds consumers that there is a range of cooling options cheaper than, and as effective as air conditioning. “Cheaper solutions such as curtains or insulation help regulate the temperature inside the home and reduce electricity bills,” says Coleman.
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