Ask G

Ask G: Air conditioners and electricity demand

Are they the reason for the building of new power stations?

I've heard that air conditioners are basically the reason we need more power stations. Is that true?

Ashley, SA

Air conditioner remote control

Keeping it cool: the electricity demand from air conditioners puts a considerable strain on Australia's power stations.

Credit: iStockphoto

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When the mercury rises, everyone who has an air conditioner turns it on to stay cool.

But air conditioners are major electricity guzzlers, so the result is an unusually high demand for electricity that power stations, via the grid, struggle to meet, which leads to the occasional power outage.

So part (but not all) of the reason for new power stations is the need to meet this peak demand.

Improving energy efficiency and designing houses to stay cool are ways to take the pressure off our existing power stations.