One of the most effective ways for Saudi Arabia to gain more value from its vast energy resources and for households to reduce their energy bills is to shift to better, more efficient air-conditioning (AC). This has been a key focus of programs overseen by the Saudi Energy Efficiency Center (SEEC).
A study presented by KAPSARC today at a workshop hosted by the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) explores the extent of the opportunities. ‘Evaluating Building Energy Efficiency Investment Options for Saudi Arabia’ quantifies the potential to reduce household energy consumption. More efficient AC on its own can reduce consumption by up to 37 percent. Combined with other measures including improvements to home insulation and air leakages, the energy savings could be up to 50 percent.
In the past, low electricity prices meant there was little incentive for households to buy energy-efficient homes and appliances and building sector energy consumption increased at around 6 percent per year. However, recent energy price reforms, coupled with social support for those most in need, have begun the process of removing this distortion. The study argues that “Looking at the efficiency of AC units and how they are used should be the first step to reducing costs.” The research also finds that the energy savings would have significant social payoffs.
Removing low-efficiency AC units from stores and increasing consumers’ adoption of energy-efficient units are important issues that SEEC has made a key focus. KAPSARC’s work has shown the size of the prize is significant and, as a result of recent price reforms, the alignment of policies puts Saudi Arabia on a better course to realize these gains. KAPSARC was represented at the workshop by Dr. Nicholas Howarth and Mr. Thamir Alsheri.