• In the face of repeated heat waves, air conditioners keep an eye on us.

  • Sold from around 200 to 1,000 euros, many models are available, to be selected according to very specific criteria.

  • But by consuming a lot of electricity and using gases that are more or less harmful to the ozone layer, the remedy may be stronger than the disease.

It was the commotion in stores between June 13 and 18: the heat wave in France prompted many French people to equip themselves with an air conditioner.

But what are the points to check before investing, if not already done, in this type of device?

20 Minutes

has summoned a few experts, gives you the keys to properly equip yourself... and reveals the warnings about this type of equipment.

Exponential sales

“It rose crescendo from Monday to Saturday.

Over the week, we saw sales move geographically to finally explode in the Paris region.

Guillaume Creton, air treatment product

leader

for the 192 Boulanger stores in France, still cannot believe the heat wave that recently hit France.

According to the Ecological Transition Agency (Ademe), more than 800,000 air conditioners were sold in France in 2020, a score never before achieved.

"It's a 20% increase," notes Angèle Leydier, air conditioning product manager at Thermor.

According to her, “an air conditioner is no longer a luxury but an essential comfort appliance”.

Fixed or mobile

Fine, but how to deal with the avalanche of products on the shelves?

First of all, it is necessary to distinguish between stationary air conditioners and mobile air conditioners.

Reputed to be more efficient, the first cling to the wall or land on the ground (when they are of the “console” type).

In fact, these are heat pumps which, by definition, will draw air from their environment to provide cold… and heat.

Because they are all reversible.

It takes an investment from 1,000 euros for a room of about 20 square meters.

While adding an additional 1,000 euros for the implementation, this type of equipment must imperatively be installed by a professional.

Be careful, this budget can explode with a so-called “

multi split

” device, which allows you to treat several rooms in the house.

Of course, fixed air conditioners are recommended for the naturally hot regions of our territory, with regular use.

Watch out for the sound level

Less expensive (sold from 200 euros to 1,000 euros), mobile models are recommended for more occasional and sparing use.

"At the time of choice, the main element to consider is the surface to be refreshed", advises Guillaume Creton at Boulanger.

Who warns: “Entry-level products are intended for simple uses, limited to surfaces of approximately 15 square meters”.

Either the equivalent of a bedroom or an office.

And beware, their noise level (65 db (A), approximately), does not necessarily allow them to be used at night.

It is better to rely on a slightly more expensive mobile air conditioner, whose noise level is only 50 db (A).

Note that, for their part, fixed air conditioners are much quieter: from 19 db (A), up to 35 db (A), which is the level of a conversation.

All mobile products look the same, with a footprint of approximately 60 x 30 x 30 cm.

But going upmarket, the air conditioner will be more aesthetic.

It will also be able to treat larger surfaces, will be quieter, even connected.

And also less energy consuming.

Environmental Considerations

Thus, mobile air conditioners display an energy label that varies from A + to A +++, against A ++ to A +++ for fixed air conditioners.

But their electricity consumption is not mentioned on their label, unlike that of washing machines which is standardized.

The question of the environment necessarily arises.

Faced with appliances that consume energy in the heat, isn't the remedy more harmful than the disease?

“We have to ask ourselves questions,” notes Guillaume Creton from Boulanger, who is campaigning to offer a maximum of appliances in his stores that are A +++ and A ++.

And aberration: some mobile air conditioners being reversible, you have to open the window with them in winter to evacuate the fresh air from your house using a duct!

We do not put them forward for this reason, ”explains Guillaume Creton.

A problem that fixed air conditioners, which are connected to the outside, do not encounter.

“Their electricity consumption in summer will be offset by energy savings in winter,” pleads Angèle Leydier, at Thermor.

"And their coefficient of performance is 3 or even 4: for 1 KWh consumed, the device restores 3 or 4 and can thus consume three to four times less energy than an electric heating device", adds the product manager. .

The refrigerant gas in question

Another environmental pitfall for air conditioners that use a refrigerant gas, which is harmful to the ozone layer.

On the market, some use R232 gas which is very polluting, while others (more expensive) use R290, with less harmful effects.

In the jargon of specialists, we speak of PRP or GWP (global or global warming potential): it is 673 for R32 gas and only 3 for R290!

We challenge our suppliers on this point.

It's our job to be careful about what we reference,” wants to reassure Guillaume Creton.

For owners, or future owners of air conditioners, there are a few rules of good conduct to follow.

First, only use their equipment while being present in their accommodation.

Do not turn it on until 30°C outside (rather than 27°C!) in order to divide their energy consumption by three.

Finally, respect a maximum difference of 8°C between the inside and the outside to avoid over-consumption.

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