A recent announcement by the Power Ministry has evoked sharp reactions. The government wants the default temperature setting of air-conditioners at 24 degrees Celsius. While the government's intention is to save energy and environment while keeping people healthy, many have interpreted it as an attack on their freedom to choose. 

What the government wants 
Under the guidance of Ministry of Power, the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) has carried out a study and has recommended that the default setting in the air-conditioners should be at 24 degree Celsius. The government will issue an advisory to all establishments and manufacturers. The targeted commercial buildings will include airports, hotels, shopping malls, officers and government buildings. After an awareness campaign of 4 to 6 months, followed by a survey to gather public feedback, the Ministry of Power would consider making the default setting mandatory. AC manufacturers have agreed and appreciated it as a step in the right direction. 

What is default setting?
Default setting, or factory setting, is the setting with which a machine comes from the factory. The default setting can be changed and personalised by the user. Currently, the default temperature setting of most the ACs is at 16 degree Celsius. 

The controversy
Many think that now the government wants to control the temperature of their ACs. But default setting does not mean 'control'. It can be changed by the user. The ACs will come with an advisory that will suggest how much temperature is good for saving energy and environment and keeping yourself healthy. The advisory will suggest temperature settings in ACs should be in the range of 24 to 26 degrees celsius 

Why the degree matters 
According to Power Minister R K Singh, every degree increase in the AC temperature setting results in a saving of 6% of electricity consumed. Normal human body temperature is approximately 36-37 degree Celsius but a large number of commercial establishments, hotels and offices maintain temperature around 18-21 degree. This is not only uncomfortable but is unhealthy. 

Why we need it 
The International Energy Agency in May said global energy demand from ACs would triple by 2050, requiring new generation capacity the equivalent to the current combined electricity capacity of the US, the EU and Japan. It said the global stock of air conditioners in buildings will grow to 5.6 billion by 2050, up from 1.6 billion today – which amounts to 10 new ACs sold every second for the next 30 years. The Bureau of Energy Efficiency reckons that considering the current market trend, total connected load in India due to ACs will be 200 GW by 2030 and this may further increase as today only about 6% households are using them. All these measures, if followed by all consumers, will result in savings of 20 billion units of electricity in one year The total installed AC capacity in India is estimated at 80 million TR (ton of refrigerator), which will increase to about 250 million TR by 2030. Considering the demand size, the power saving potential is seen at 40 million units per day. 

In other countries 
In 2015, New York City’s Department of Consumer Affairs had launched the “Shut the Front Door!” social media campaign to check wasteful AC use by getting stores and restaurants to stop blasting their cooling machines while keeping their doors open 
Japan has put in place regulation to keep the AC temperature at 28 degree Celsius.

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