Air conditioners can hardly be considered ‘green’ appliances. They’re responsible for creating large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions — mainly at our mostly fossil fuel-fired power plants, but also to a lesser extent from the refrigerants they use.
Most of the air conditioners on test use R-410a (Kelvinator) or R-407c (Tecoair, both Convair's and the Delonghi Pinguino PAC) as refrigerant. These commonly-used hydrofluorocarbon blends won’t deplete the ozone layer like the chlorofluorocarbons used in the past, but they can still release greenhouse gases if there’s a leak, during servicing, or at the end of their life.
What’s ‘green’ about the Pinguino Eco?
While R-407c has a lower global warming potential (GWP) than R-410a, pure hydrocarbon refrigerants have a much lower GWP and pose a lower environmental risk. But they’re still less commonly used in air conditioning — in our test only the Delonghi Pinguino Eco uses one (propane R-290). Its energy consumption is markedly lower than that of the other brands tested, but its cooling performance suffered accordingly, so it’s not in our What to buy list.
If you want to take the most environmentally-responsible stance, do without an air conditioner altogether and heatproof your home as much as possible. Home owners have many options to choose from, like planting shade trees outside windows, installing roof insulation, window shading and drapes or blinds.
Even the simplest measures such as using cooling fans, sealing the gaps around windows and doors and blocking out the midday heat (closing curtains or blinds or rolling out an awning) can help keep temperatures down.