Are the French massively equipping themselves with air conditioners? The question is not settled. Manufacturers confirm this by highlighting the 30% increase in sales between 2002 and 2003 and by counting on the continuation of this trend in 2004. L'Ademe (Association for the Environment and Energy Management) tempers this figure by stressing that this increase is explained by the low level of equipment departure from the residential stock. "In addition, we do not know exactly what is the share of independent professionals in these sales, adds Michel Carré engineer of Ademe, Nothing says that there is really a craze on the part of individuals for these products. According to a Sofres survey carried out after the heat wave in the summer of 2003, 80% of those questioned said that they did not want to equip themselves with air conditioning.
France could therefore remain an exception in industrialized countries which have much higher equipment rates. France therefore represents only 2% of the global air conditioning market, compared to 29% for the United States. And this relative under-equipment is rather good news for the environment because air conditioners remain very polluting systems, especially if they are not treated properly. “It is not so much the energy consumed by these devices that remains relatively low, notes Michel Carré, as the presence of refrigerants inside which are greenhouse gases 1 times more harmful than CO500. "
However, according to the specialist, not only air conditioners suffer almost systematically from leakage problems (very important in cars), but fluids are often poorly recovered on devices at the end of their life. An accusation that professionals reject. "The recovery of fluids is a legal obligation dating from the decree of December 7, 1992 and the installers respect it", assures Pascal Folempin, deputy general delegate of an association of manufacturers of air conditioners.
The fact remains that Ademe advises individuals to think carefully before equipping themselves. "Air conditioning is not inevitable, even in the south of France," notes the practical guide "Summer Comfort" recently published by the agency and available on the Internet (see below). Experts list many alternative and very concrete solutions to protect themselves from heat, keep them cool or create cold. On the protection side, the windows and shutters must remain closed, the west facade protected (for example by trees) and the insulation well ensured between any glazed parts (like the verandas) and the rest of the house. In terms of freshness, Ademe admits its weakness for fans hanging from the ceiling and invites individuals to buy air conditioners only from professionals.
The Ademe guide: