Climate Change Could Push Air Conditioning Use to Unprecedented Levels
According to a new study from researchers at Penn State University, U.S. household air conditioning use is expected to exceed electricity capacity in the next decade due to climate change, presenting a risk to public health.
The study looked at climate change and its effects on residential air conditioning demand. With the global climate expected to exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming by 2030, the study projected air conditioning use to increase by an unprecedented 8% to 13%.
The increased demand will place a heavy burden on utility companies to provide an adequate supply of electricity. If the power grid can’t keep up with the heavy air conditioning use, utility companies will have to institute rolling blackouts to avoid grid failure.
Overall, in a 2.0°C warmer world, the researchers found the average U.S. household could face up to 14 days without air conditioning if climate-induced changes to electricity demand aren’t accounted for.
Why it matters:
According to the researchers, rolling blackouts and frequent grid failures are more likely to impact low-income, non-white, and older populations, leaving millions of households without access to electricity and other essential electricity-dependent services, such as water, sanitation, and communication.