Is this true?
Turns out, the claims are false. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), shading the AC unit with an umbrella or canopy is pretty much pointless. A spokesperson for the DOE told Snopes, “This is a myth. Shading an AC with an umbrella would have a negligible effect.”
Funnily, this isn’t the first time the supposed claim has come about. Rather, it resurfaces every summer. Back in 2017, the Direct Energy blog took a look into the issue and noted a few logical flaws with the shade solution.
“First, there’s an assumption that the sun shining directly onto the unit causes the whole thing to heat up like a brick. Now, shading the condenser might reduce the sun’s heat on the casing but the condenser’s casing doesn’t conduct that much heat to the internal fins and tubing. In fact, all those bits are already under shade inside the case,” Direct Energy writes.
Studies have been undertaken to prove the issue ‘false.’ In 2010, researchers from the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research studied the impact shade had on air conditioners and revealed that shading alone would only result in a maximum of increased efficiency of one percent. The study concluded: “The actual increase in efficiency due to shading is not expected to exceed a maximum of one percent. Actual daily and seasonal savings in energy will be even lower. The findings of this study suggest that shading alone, without evapo-transpiration, is not an effective measure to improve A/C efficiency or reduce electrical demand.”