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What Star Rating Does Your AC Have?

By Shreya Jai, Sharleen D'Souza
Last updated on: June 18, 2024 14:22 IST
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Since 2008, the Bureau of Energy Efficiency is running a star rating programme, under which electric equipment are rated according to their efficiency. This in turn helps the consumers save electricity.

IMAGE: Kindly note the image has been posted only for representational purposes. Photograph: Kind courtesy falco/

Intense heat has pumped up the sale of cooling equipment across the country. There has been a record spike in sales of air conditioners and refrigerators.

There are new users coming from smaller towns and rural areas, apart from incremental demand from the existing urban consumers.

According to the World Energy Outlook 2023, AC ownership in the country has tripled since 2010 to reach 24 units per 100 households. Along with space cooling, these sectors are now pushing India's electricity demand.

Thanks to the increase in residential cooling, new 'high electricity demand' hours have emerged during the evening time, which was earlier only during office hours.

With ACs, fridges, and space cooling becoming necessities, there are now concerns about their impact on the environment.

Environment experts have repeatedly pointed out that ambient heat increases as more cooling equipment is installed.

Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are the main chemical gases used in coolants, are proven beyond doubt to be causing ozone layer depletion.

India has a star rating programme for efficient electrical equipment and is a signatory to the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol for phase down of HFCs.

But the spike in use of cooling equipment will inevitably cause more warming.

Growing cooling landscape

Space cooling now accounts for nearly 10 per cent of the country's electricity demand, which is now 21 per cent higher than its share in 2019.

By 2050, household AC ownership in India is projected to increase nine-fold, leading to a nine-fold increase in energy demand for cooling, said a report by Delhi-based iForest, which has been at the forefront of building an action plan against environmentally harmful cooling chemicals.

"In room air conditioners, India's household penetration is around 8 per cent. Our market size will be around 11 million this year," said B Thiagarajan, managing director, Blue Star.

"China's market size is around 90 million. Now, India is the fastest growing market and India will also exceed China by 2045-2050," adds Thiagarajan.

He pointed at a developing trend in AC purchases.

"The (AC consumption) growth in India is driven by an aspirational middle class. Over 90 per cent of ACs sold is to first time buyers. Around 65 per cent are bought by Tier 3-4-5," points out Thiagarajan.

"Over 50 per cent are through consumer finance -- this is broadly the profile of the Indian AC buyer. They are not going to afford a five-star air conditioner; they will afford only a three-star air conditioner or a two-star air conditioner," explains Thiagarajan.

The lower the star rating, the less efficient and more environmentally hazardous the AC.

An iForest survey of businesses in 2021 had indicated predominant use of HFC. While businesses showed an intention to move to natural refrigerants, none were using HC or CO2 refrigerants, while some were using NH3 and water as refrigerant.

'Penetration of natural refrigerant-based cooling and not-in-kind technologies in the market remains limited,' said the report.

The report also noted that India was in the third stage of refrigerant transition.

'The phase out of chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) is complete. The hydrochlorofluorocarbons are expected to be phased out in India by 2030.

'Simultaneously, with a freeze in 2028 under the 'Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol', with no ozone depletion potential but with large global warming potentials, are set for a phase-down in India,' it said in a report titled Promoting Green Cooling in India and the Global South.

Stars on your ACs

Since 2008, the Bureau of Energy Efficiency is running a star rating programme, under which electric equipment are rated according to their efficiency. This in turn helps the consumers save electricity.

The programme advertises how more energy efficient equipment help save power bills. High-rated equipment is also safer for the environment.

The star rating metric keeps getting stringent, which the industry feels is a great marker of the Indian cooling market.

"Since 2008 onwards, every two or three years they have been tightening the label. Therefore, what you see today what is a one- or two-star rating was earlier a four- or a five-star," says Kamal Nandi, business head and executive vice president, Godrej Appliances.

"This whole collaboration between industry and government to bring out more energy efficient products is a continuous process and this will continue," Nandi adds.

Godrej, he said, was continuously bringing out more green and energy efficient technologies.

"The effort -- from both industry side and government side -- is to bring greener technologies and to bring in more and more energy efficient products and this will happen."

For consumers, there are campaigns for higher energy efficient products, both online and at store level.

There are also calculators to show the payback when you pay a premium to buy a five-star rated appliance, how that premium is recovered in two years or so.

But, Nandi adds, though the industry believes there should also be incentives for the consumers to adopt similar equipment. Higher star-rating equipment is costlier.

"We have been proposing to the government to bring in some sort of incentive for consumers to adopt the highest or the higher energy rated products like a four-star or five-star."

As a country India was doing well in maintaining the green standards in the cooling industry, Thiagarajan says.

"I am of the view that we will be leading the world in terms of greening. I don't think we should burden the consumer by saying you should buy only five-star because the developed countries use it 24 hours, 365 days," he explains.

'Developed countries use air conditioners that are outdated. India that way has been demonstrating its commitment,' he says.

Turning the debate over the Kigali agreement, Thiagarajan says Indian industry would be way ahead in its commitments and that would be solely because of market competition.

He, however, is of the view that Indian market should get some grace time, compared to the developed world.

"I am of the view that this industry will do it ahead of time, because competition will force you. No one will wait, they will go ahead and launch it.

"I am telling my team that by 2030, we should have it (targeted reduction on HFCs)," Thiagarajan says.

While the industry dons more stars, it is time consumers counted them too.

Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/

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Shreya Jai, Sharleen D'Souza
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