Are the French in the process of equipping themselves massively with air conditioners? The question is not settled. The manufacturers affirm this by highlighting the increase in sales of 30% between 2002 and 2003 and by counting on the continuation of this trend in 2004. The Ademe (Association for the environment and energy management) moderates this figure by stressing that this increase is explained by the low level of equipment starting 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 heatwave of the summer of 2003, 80% of the people questioned said they did not want to equip themselves with an air conditioning system.
France could therefore remain an exception among industrialized countries which experience much higher equipment rates. France thus represents only 2% of the world air conditioning market, against 29% for the United States. And this relative under-equipment is rather good news for the environment because air conditioners are still very polluting systems, especially if they are not treated properly. “It is not so much the energy consumed by these devices which 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 almost systematically suffer from leakage problems (very important in cars), but fluids are often poorly recovered from 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 manager of an association of air conditioner manufacturers.
Still, the 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 against heat, keep 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 (such as verandas) and the rest of the house. In terms of freshness, the Ademe admits its weakness for fans hanging from the ceiling and invites individuals to buy air conditioners only from professionals.
The Ademe guide: