LBNL Report Number
Evaporative coolers (ECs) provide significant gains in energy efficiency compared to vapor compression air conditioners, but simultaneously have significant onsite water demand. This can be a major barrier to deployment in areas of the world with hot and arid climates. To address this concern, this study determined where in the world evaporative cooling is suitable, the water consumption of ECs in these cities, and the potential that greywater can be used reduce the consumption of potable water in ECs. ECs covered 69% of the cities where room air conditioners are may be deployed, based on comfort conditions alone. The average water consumption due to ECs was found to be 400 L/household/day in the United States and Australia, with the potential for greywater to provide 50% this amount. In the rest of the world, the average water consumption was 250 L/household/day, with the potential for greywater to supply 80% of this amount. Home size was the main factor that contributed to this difference. In the Mediterranean, the Middle East, Northern India, and the Midwestern and Southwestern United States alkalinity levels are high and water used for bleeding will likely contribute significantly to EC water consumption.
Although technically feasible, upfront costs for household GW systems are currently high. In both developed and developing parts of the world, however, a direct EC and GW system is cost competitive with conventional vapor compression air conditioners. Moreover, in regions of the world that face problems of water scarcity the benefits can substantially outweigh the costs.