“The room is really warm, but the weather looks warmer in the day than the night”, Benedicta Ofori, 32, shares her experiences, as the family relocates to the new apartment in Aburi, a tourist attraction community near Accra in the Eastern part of Ghana.
As we trekked around the mountainous, rocky and sloppy area, one of us (journalists) attending a climate change journalism training workshop in Aburi sighted Benedicta Ofori, picking some fresh air under one of the trees.
The training was organized by Penplusbyte with funding from DW Akademie to equip, reorient and empower the 15 selected journalists to write in-depth and compelling stories on climate change.
Out of curiosity, we decided to engage her and find out why she was so lonely at such an hour of the day when she should be in the house relaxing with the family.
She attributed her mood to the unpredicted weather pattern in the area after we have had some conversations with her.
“My husband sleeps in the hall, but I prefer the living room. In fact, we never thought that the glazing structures could absorb such extreme heat”, Benedicta laments, watching from afar the magnificent two-bedroom house they recently completed in the mountainous, rocky, and sloppy area.
The couple has lived in their new house for just two years, but night temperatures are making life uncomfortable for them, though trees are visibly seen around the neighborhood.
Benedicta says it was extremely hard for her to survive, after catching a cold. “So I now sleep on the bare floor to catch some fresh air, but I still experience some discomforts, unusual headaches, and cold”.
“The glazing windows are quite safer to live in”, she however said.
A waiter at one of the hotels in Aburi, who spoke on condition of anonymity, says he just had the opportunity to work as a waiter and a receptionist in the area and describes the weather as disgusting.
“The warmer conditions are always unbearable, and I am always happy to work outside the rooms”.
“I don’t know what is exactly happening. The rooms are always warmer, even if you put on the air conditioners, you can still feel the heat.”
Though glazing structures look attractive and safer, experts say such buildings undermine today’s striving for sustainability and green building.
According to the President of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), Engineer Henry Kwadwo Boateng, glazing buildings “use more energy and do not fit well with the Ghanaian climate”.
“Unlike opaque wall glass allows heat to pass in and out easily”, he said.
The 2014 Report of the Urban Green Council in New York, says “glass buildings have insulation values comparable to medieval half-timbered houses”.
“Transparent walls limit privacy and sunlight can create glare. Reflections on glass buildings can also be a problem”, the report stated.
Available data and market surveys conducted in Ghana have shown that 60 percent to 80 percent of electricity consumed in offices of public and commercial buildings is used to run air-conditioners to provide indoor thermal comfort for productive office work.
Electricity consumption of these air-conditioners are relatively high and are in the range of 3000 to 5400 kWh/yr per air-conditioner depending on the brand and the cooling capacity.
The low energy efficiency rating of the air-conditioners is a major contributing factor to their high electricity consumption.
Financial analysis has also revealed that there is an opportunity for electricity consumption cost savings of about US$ 1.96 billion from the year 2018 to 2030 with higher EER air-conditioners (4-star) being installed in the country compared to the current low EER air-conditioners.
As incomes rise and populations grow, especially in the world’s hotter regions, the use of air conditioners is becoming increasingly common.
“In fact, the use of air conditioners and electric fans already account for about a fifth of the total electricity in buildings around the world – or 10% of all global electricity consumption”, a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) has indicated.
Over the next three decades, the use of ACs is set to soar, becoming one of the top drivers of global electricity demand.
A new analysis by the IEA shows how new standards can help the world avoid facing such a “cold crunch” by helping improve efficiency while also staying cool.
By 2050, around two-thirds of the world’s households could have an air conditioner.
China, India, and Indonesia will together account for half of the total number.
“The efficient cooling scenario reduces investment and running costs by USD 3 trillion between now and 2050. Average cooling energy costs would be almost halved”, the report highlighted.
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