Key Messages

Thermal comfort is a fundamental need and should not be the privilege of the well-off. The recent string of heatwaves around the world, including in India, have unquestionably been intensified by climate change. Staying ‘thermally comfortable’, especially during these events, is vital for avoiding the health impacts of extreme heat.

Air-conditioning (AC) is fast becoming the mainstay for thermal comfort in India among those who can afford it, while those who cannot are simply forced to cope. However, AC usage comes with a massive climate cost – both in terms of electricity demand and the hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) used in their refrigerants. Despite a temporary slump in AC demand due to the pandemic, in the next 30 years, India could have over a billion ACs (25% of global ACs).

Turn Down the Heat – Coping with Energy Demand and Thermal Comfort