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Optimal Replacement of Residential Air Conditioning Equipment to Minimize Energy, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, and Consumer Cost in the US

CSS Publication Number
Full Publication Date
June 2011

A life cycle optimization of the replacement of residential central air conditioners (CACs) was conducted in order to identify replacement schedules that minimized three separate objectives: life cycle energy consumption, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and consumer cost.  The analysis was conducted for the time period of 1985–2025 for Ann Arbor, MI and San Antonio, TX.  Using annual sales-weighted efficiencies of residential CAC equipment, the tradeoff between potential operational savings and the burdens of producing new, more efficient equipment was evaluated.  The optimal replacement schedule for each objective was identified for each location and service scenario.  In general, minimizing energy consumption required frequent replacement (4–12 replacements), minimizing GHG required fewer replacements (2–5 replacements), and minimizing cost required the fewest replacements (1–3 replacements) over the time horizon.  Scenario analysis of different federal efficiency standards, regional standards, and Energy Star purchases were conducted to quantify each policy’s impact.  For example, a 16 SEER regional standard in Texas was shown to either reduce primary energy consumption 13%, GHGs emissions by 11%, or cost by 6–7% when performing optimal replacement of CACs from 2005 or before. The results also indicate that proper servicing should be a higher priority than optimal replacement to minimize environmental burdens.

Research Areas
Consumer Products & Packaging
Food Systems and Consumer Products
Air conditioning, Life cycle optimization, Replacement policy
Publication Type
Journal Article
Digital Object Identifier
Full Citation
De Kleine, Robert D., Gregory A. Keoleian and Jarod C. Kelly. (2011) “Optimal replacement of residential air conditioning equipment to minimize energy, greenhouse gas emissions, and consumer cost in the US.” Energy Policy, 39(6): 3144-3153.